EPIC - Electricity Program Investment Charge
In May 2012, the CPUC issued a Decision establishing the Electricity Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program for the purpose of providing public funding for research, development, demonstration, deployment (RDD&D), and market facilitation projects. The CPUC authorized approximately $162 million annually for utility and California Energy Commission (CEC) RDD&D projects, from January 2012 through 2020. In September 2013, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 96, which capped the annual collection of EPIC funds at the amount authorized in the CPUC’s EPIC Decision. SB 96 also imposed additional administration and reporting requirements on the CEC’s administration of its portion of the EPIC program. The CEC, Edison, PG&E, and SDG&E filed their coordinated EPIC proposals with the CPUC on November 1, 2012. These investment plans also included proposed administrative and governance processes, and bidding and project selection guidelines.
On November 14, 2013, the CPUC issued its Final Decision approving the CEC’s and the utilities’ 2012-2014 investment plans, with modifications such as capping EPIC funds at $162 million per year, which is consistent with SB 96. In addition, the CPUC decision denied the CEC’s request to increase its EPIC budget by $50 million for the New Solar Homes Partnership. The EPIC program will fund RDD&D projects related to achieving California's energy policy goals, including electric vehicles, energy storage, and demand response.
For the three year investment period from 2012 to 2014, the budgets are:
- CEC - $368.7 million
- PG&E - $49.3 million
- SCE - $40.4 million
- SDG&E - $8.6 million
The CEC and utilities are required to submit annual reports on the status of the EPIC program to the CPUC and to consult with interested stakeholders no less than twice a year, during development and implementation.
In 2016, an independent evaluator will assess the program’s success and identify areas for improvement.
ORA’s Policy Position
ORA supports ratepayers’ investment in RDD&D where ratepayers receive benefit for their investment. In December 2013, ORA protested the CEC’s and the utilities’ EPIC investment plans because the proposals did not properly detail quantifiable benefits for ratepayers’ investment, nor adequately described the governance and reporting processes. In the CPUC’s November 2013 Decision, ORA successfully achieved the following safeguards for ratepayers:
- Utilities must return to ratepayers 75% of all financial gains related to ongoing royalties, license fees, or other financial benefits of Intellectual Property developed under EPIC.
- Utilities must return to ratepayers 67% of all financial gains related to the sale of Intellectual Property developed under EPIC.
- All interest accrued must either be used to offset the program’s future annual budget or returned to ratepayers at the program’s conclusion.
- In 2017, any uncommitted EPIC funds must be used to offset the program’s future annual budget, or be returned to ratepayers.
- CEC and utilities must file comprehensive annual reports with detailed project-by-project status updates.
- Utilities must disclose the identity, scope of work, and deliverables of winning bidders in the annual report.
- EPIC funds may not be used for in-house activities where the utility is conducting all of the work using its own staff and facilities.
See ORA’s December 7, 2012 Protest to the EPIC proposals.
See ORA’s March 15, 2013 Opening Brief
See ORA’s March 22, 2013 Reply Brief
See ORA’s September 4, 2013 Opening Comments on the revised Proposed Decision.
See ORA’s September 12, 2013 Reply Comments on revised Proposed Decision.
See the Proceeding docket to establish EPIC.
Read more about ORA’s policy position on RD&D investments.
See the California Energy Commission's EPIC webpage.