When is a rebate not a rebate? When the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) offers a rebate, then takes it back if the California Energy Commission offers a grant.
Some people think there are too many energy agencies in California. This may be an example of how the mission of one agency can be derailed by another.
Our firm recently considered applying for a grant through the California Energy Commission PIER (Public Interest Energy Research) program. PIER offered a grant under their Emerging Technology Demonstration Grant Program (ETDG), which specifically targets Industrial, Agriculture & Water Energy Efficiency RD&D. Without going into great detail, the grant would fund, among other things, customer side energy storage applications up to $2 million with applicant match funding of at least 25% of the project cost.
The CPUC offers a rebate of $2 Watt for customer side energy storage. The CEC published a Q&A on the PIER grant advising that SGIP funds could be used for matching funds. Fantastic! This meant we could install a 1 MW energy storage system, which are expensive due to a lack of scale, and report on the multiple applications and monetary benefits, like power quality improvement, demand response, peak shaving, integration and shaping of the intermittent on-site solar PV, and CAISO ancillary services. Southern California Edison issued a white paper on the applications of energy storage on their system, and we wanted to demonstrate several of their applications, such as:
• On-peak intermittent energy smoothing & shaping
• Ancillary service provision
• End user time-of-use rate optimization
• Peak load shifting downstream of distribution system
• Variable distributed generation integration
Our work would help inform the CPUC for their current proceeding to, “…set policy for California utilities to consider the procurement of viable and cost-effective energy storage systems“.
However, just as it looked like the energy policy and incentives in California were going to allow for a significant project with wide-ranging benefits – the CPUC informed us that they would reduce the SGIP rebate for the installation on a dollar for dollar basis if we received CEC grant money for R&D and reporting!
So California energy policy shoots itself in the foot. We cannot do the PIER research and reporting if we want to accept the SGIP for installation. Who is in charge? A program designed to help the CPUC form policy has been foiled by the CPUC. Can anyone explain this?