Under a state law (AB 118) providing up to $100 million annually, the California Energy Commission (CEC) opened its pocketbook again, doling out another $1.7 million for 15 different energy projects, including a number of natural gas vehicle (NGV) programs. More than $500,000 of the grants went to what the CEC called "green transportation" advancements.

Two grants went to public school districts trying to expand their compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling and vehicles: $300,000 to a school district in Los Angeles County for a new CNG fueling system and up to 15 CNG vehicles; and $83,000 to a district in Imperial County to upgrade the public access part of its CNG fueling facility.

The rest of the NGV-directed funds ($122,000) went to three auto dealers to provide them with "buy-downs" to help pay for the cost difference between vehicles equipped to run on natural gas or propane and the conventional ones using gasoline or diesel.

Among the other grants, which included one for $300,000 and the rest each at the $95,000 level, are ones to look at biofuels and advanced technologies for natural gas pipeline leak detection through laser-based gas sensors and new processes to produce substitute natural gas from wet organic wastes.

The biggest grant ($300,000) went to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, to help quantify the effects of climate change on energy forecasting.

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