With funding from an offshoot of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s historic Chapter 11 bankruptcy settlement, the nation’s first university-based technology center devoted to energy efficiency was dedicated by state, energy and environmental officials Wednseday at the University of California, Davis, a few miles west of the state Capitol.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned out to award $1 million to the new center and to declare the UC Davis campus as the “academic leader of the energy efficiency movement.” California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), a creation mandated in the PG&E utility bankruptcy settlement with the state, provided the $1 million grant.

Separately, PG&E Corp. announced a shareholder-funded grant to the center of $500,000, spread over the next five years with $100,000 annual grants. As a multi-disciplinary academic center, the UC Davis nonprofit unit will focus on “advancing innovation and bringing energy efficiency products, services and practices to the state’s marketplace,” Schwarzenegger said as part of his remarks.

PG&E CEO Peter Darbee called California “the nation’s undisputed leader in energy efficiency,” crediting his utility with helping solidify that reputation for the state, and he said the funding from the utility’s shareholders should help “ensure the early prominence and success” of the UC Davis center. PG&E’s commitment to energy-savings and environmental protection “are as strong as ever.”

As he has done with a constant stream of alternative energy photo-ops this month, Gov. Schwarzenegger at UC Davis stressed the economic development potential of advanced energy efficiency technology as he has done for climate change issues, renewable energy and the hydrogen highway programs in the state.

Schwarzenegger cited the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) estimates that venture capital investment in energy efficient technologies will create 52,000 to 114,000 jobs and $11-$25 billion in annual revenue by 2010.

To continue his gubernatorial election campaign-driven momentum on energy alternatives, Schwazenegger’s press office late Wednesday announced that the governor will meet in the Capitol with environmental leaders Thursday on the topic of solar energy.

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