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The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded approximately $1.5 million to fund 18 research projects ranging from sensors used to forecast disruptions in the electricity grid to computer programs to advance the framework for plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) in California.

"These projects will increase the energy efficiency of buildings, raise renewable energy production and improve the reliability of the state's electricity grid," says Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller.

Funds for the projects come from the CEC's Research and Development program's Energy Innovations Small Grant program. The program provides funding to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, individuals and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts, the commission explains. The program provides up to $95,000 for projects.

Although the CEC also awarded grants to natural-gas-related efforts, the majority of the funds went to electricity- and EV-related research, including the following:

- San Francisco-based SmartSense Energy will receive $95,000 to study the use of wireless sensors in underground electricity cables. The project aims to develop a system for predicting and detecting underground cable faults using mircosensors developed in partnership with Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center.

- David S. Watson of San Anselmo (Marin County) was awarded $95,000 to study a wireless pressure optimization system designed to measure air duct pressure, provide fast demand response and increase energy efficiency.

- Claremont-based Policy Consultants LLC will receive $49,840 to develop an electricity monitoring and analysis software program to identify space conditioning mechanical failures and increase the energy efficiency of residential buildings.

- Los Angeles-based Ballast Energy Inc. received $95,000 to investigate the feasibility of building low-cost, large-format, lithium-ion batteries to store electricity for the energy grid.

- University of California Davis was approved $94,906 to develop a computer program that can be used by electric utilities, state and local governments to support the development of plug-in electric vehicles.

To view the full list of award recipients, click here.







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