California Forms Institute to Help Fight Climate War

The California Public Utilities Commission created the California Institute for Climate Solutions (CICS), taking an innovative approach to expanding California's leadership on this environmental issue.

The mission of the institute is based on the following:

· To facilitate mission-oriented, applied, and directed research that results in practical technological solutions and supports development of policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the electric and natural gas sectors, or otherwise mitigates the impacts of climate change in California.

· To speed the transfer, deployment, and commercialization of technologies that have the highest potential to reduce GHG in the electric and natural gas sectors.

"The CICS will allow us to devise and deploy the most cost-effective solutions by mobilizing our financial and human capital," commented Commission President Michael R. Peevey.

The work of the CICS will be directed by a strategic plan that will identify potential areas of research, maximize consumer benefit, and minimize unnecessary redundancy. The strategic plan will identify those areas of research and technological innovation that are most likely to achieve the greatest emissions reductions in the energy sector at the lowest cost.

A governing board will ensure that the CICS fulfills its mission. In order to retain commission oversight, the board will be co-chaired by Peevey and the University of California president, with seats reserved for the state senate and assembly, and the director of the commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates. Other members will be drawn from other state agencies, universities, utilities, private firms, underserved communities, and consumer/environmental advocacy groups.

A strategic research committee will be responsible for developing a strategic plan by March 13, 2009, and updating it on an annual basis; assisting the CICS officers in developing short-term and long-term strategic plans; and reviewing grant proposals recommended by a peer review committee.

The funding for the CICS, $60 million per year for 10 years, is an investment in California's future and will directly benefit ratepayers, the commission determined. The commission has charged the CICS executive director with obtaining 100 percent matching funds over 10 years in order to maximize ratepayer benefits. The commission will require two external audits -- a biennial performance review and an annual financial audit.

The mission of the CICS is consistent with the purpose and findings of Assembly Bill 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and Senate Bill 1368, regulating GHG emissions from electric utilities.

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