The projects include thermal energy storage for concentrated solar power plants and improved forecasting for wind power and solar energy production.

The California Energy Commission has made its first investment of $10 million in its Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) intended to support a variety of energy-related research and development programs. The program calls for a total investment of $330 million in 2014 and 2015.

Specifically, the EPIC R&D program will help create technology innovations to benefit the customers of Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The first seven project awards will be used to develop utility-scale renewable energy technologies and to bring them to market. Two of the recipients also are receiving complementary federal grants from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

"R&D is the driving force of innovation. It has been a long road developing the EPIC clean energy research program and I am delighted to see these first projects getting funded, which will enable California to meet the goals of its low-carbon energy future," said energy commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller.

The first projects include thermal energy storage for concentrated solar power plants, improved forecasting for wind and solar power production, alternative and new fuels and advanced transportation technologies.

The commission also approved funding for the first of 10 hydrogen fueling stations. It includes money for operation and maintenance costs for equipment used in fueling stations. In addition, a grant was awarded for a high-resolution seismic data and maps project to provide more detail about geothermal subsurface conditions, and a loan for installing rooftop solar systems at five schools.

The EPIC also will invest $180 million over the next year for projects that will help the state achieve its clean energy targets and give electricity customers more energy choices.