In the Beginning: Origins of ETP and ETCC

The Emerging Technologies Program (ETP) is a California statewide effort that accelerates the deployment through utility programs of energy efficient products, practices and integrated systems that are new to the market or underutilized. As efficiency measures become widely adopted and the “low hanging fruit” becomes sparse, finding new measures becomes increasingly important. ETP’s role is to help fill the pipeline of new energy efficiency (EE) measures by supporting technology advancement, validating the performance of emerging technologies (ETs) and conducting field demonstrations.

ETP evolved from new technology pilots aimed at supporting the IOUs’ EE market transformation (MT) efforts in the late 1990s. These pilots were initially funded as part of broad MT programs. The onset of California’s 2000–2001 electricity crisis led to reduced ET project funding and activity levels—along with termination of most utility market transformation activities. In response to spiking energy costs, regulators and utilities redirected all available energy efficiency resources to initiatives expected to produce immediate energy savings and demand reductions. 

In early 2002, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorized the relaunch of a post-MT portfolio of statewide EE programs, including the first dedicated program funding for each IOU’s portion of the statewide ETP.

That same CPUC decision included the first formal regulatory recognition of the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (ETCC), a collaborative working group made up of individual utility ETP staff and CEC Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) staff. The ETCC traces its origins back to February 2000, when IOU ET leaders began meeting quarterly with PIER program representatives. 

The ETCC has since evolved from an organization focused on hosting informal quarterly member-only meetings to one that incorporates public ET-focused meetings and events including the biennial ET Summit, the ETCC website and the ETCC Insight newsletter. The ETCC Leadership Team includes representatives of the California IOUs, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and the California Energy Commission, with oversight from the CPUC.

How Art Rosenfeld Weighed In – and What Happened Next

The publication of the Emerging Technologies Whitepaper early in 2005, authored by CEC Commissioner Art Rosenfeld and his colleagues, laid the foundation for growth and evolution of the ET paradigm in California. The Whitepaper presented ETP as the nucleus of a network of linked activities that bring EE innovations to the marketplace and create value. It proposed increasing ETP’s effectiveness by adding new programmatic elements to broaden and deepen its ability to accelerate the commercialization of new EE technologies. 

It also proposed that California regulators rethink the scale of ETP activities, challenging them to increase ETP funding levels by three to six-fold to align with standard practice for technology transfer funding in other fields. The CPUC responded positively to the Whitepaper’s call for a more robust ETP, allocating increased funding and reaffirming regulatory support for ETP. 

The Continued Evolution of ETP

As ETP has grown and refocused its course in the years since the Emerging Technologies Whitepaper was published, the ETP project portfolio has responded to changing market needs. Originally a technology assessment and validation program, ETP has evolved to support EE program portfolios with a balance of technology push and market pull. 

Recent years’ ETP project portfolios have included a diverse combination of technology performance assessments, Scaled Field Placements, Demonstration Showcases, business outreach efforts, market and behavioral studies, symposia, tools, and outreach. Thus, ETP may touch a technology repeatedly at different stages of its development and adoption process from research and development to codes and standards.