Funding will help clean energy initiatives at University of California, San Diego

Funding from the California Energy Commission will enable the University of California, San Diego, to continue developing its electric microgrid and to add charging stations for electric vehicles.

The California Energy Commission has approved an additional $1.6 million in funding to continue development of a microgrid and expand electric vehicle charging at the University of California, San Diego.

The $1.6 million is in addition to the commission’s previously awarded funding of $1,394,298 for the microgrid. It also has approved funding of $220,554 to expand the campus' charging network for plug-in electric vehicles.

The microgrid is a small-scale version of the traditional larger power grid that draws energy from clean sources such as the wind and sun, as well as from conventional technology, the commission says in a news release. The university says it saves more than $800,000 per month in power costs because of its microgrid.

The microgrid at UC San Diego serves a campus community of more than 45,000 people, and generates more than 90 percent of the electricity used annually on campus. The project has also spurred investment, the commission says: The nearly $4 million that the Energy Commission has invested in the microgrid since 2008 has been leveraged to garner more than $4 million from other funding sources, public and private.

In addition to the microgrid, the campus is on track to having the largest, most diverse range of electric vehicle charging stations at any university in the world, the commission says. By June 2013, the university expects to have 54 charging outlets; more than 70 percent of those will be available for public use.

"The expansion of our electric vehicle charging infrastructure complements our existing operations and research efforts while supporting the state's efforts to create a clean energy transportation sector and foster innovation and investment in California," says Gary C. Matthews, UC San Diego vice chancellor for Resource Management and Planning.

Nearly half of UC San Diego’s fleet of more than 800 vehicles has been converted to near-zero-emission vehicles. Diesel fuel has been replaced with ultra-low sulfur biodiesel, and many buses, street sweepers, cars and trucks now run on compressed natural gas. The fleet also includes five Nissan Leafs and more than 50 hybrid-electric vehicles.

The commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which is paying for the UC San Diego vehicle charging upgrades, is slated to invest about $90 million during the current fiscal year to encourage the development and use of new technologies, and alternative and renewable fuels.

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