The California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), a $30 million endowed public benefit investment fund created as part of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s Chapter 11 settlement with the state, announced Thursday it plans to give $1 million to establish and maintain what it called “the world’s leading university center on energy efficiency” at a still-to-be-determined university campus in northern California.

CalCEF’s announcement said they are looking for a university that “aspires to international leadership in the development of energy efficiency technologies and the removal of barriers to their rapid commercialization.”

Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission that forged the settlement two years ago with the then-Chapter 11 immersed PG&E utility, said increasing energy efficiency is one of the steps the state can take to “minimize long-term cost of reliable energy services.” Peevey is chairman of the CalCEF oversight board. He called the establishment of a university center a “natural way to meet the state’s goals by tapping into a wealth of academic expertise.”

Through a combination of the CalCEF board, the university-based center, and partnerships with leading venture capital firms, along with academic leaders from various disciplines, Peevey hopes to advance innovation and speed up commercialization of more energy efficiency products. He also hopes to reinforce what he feels in California’s standing as a national and international leader in the area.

“Given the clear relationship between energy use and climate change, it is imperative for California’s policymakers, academics and business leaders to make energy efficiency a top priority,” said Arthur Rosenfeld, PhD, a member of the California Energy Commission and the CalCEF board.

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