California Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Independent PIER Review Panel Interim Report

Release Date: March 15, 2004 | Last Updated Date: March 15, 2004

PIER 2004 Interim Report Cover

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This report is the interim report responding to Senate Bill 1038, requiring that the California Energy Commission (CEC) convene an independent review and critique of the Public Energy Interest Research (PIER) Program. An interim report was released in 2004. The review is a follow up to a previous independent review published by CCST in 2001.

In 1996, Assembly Bill 1890 restructured the California electricity industry. Legislation also authorized collection of a surcharge on retail electricity sales to ensure a continuation of public interest energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects. The PIER program was established at the California Energy Commission in 1998 to implement this provision. California leads the nation in fostering and implementing new sources of electricity to sustain its economy while preserving its natural environment. The contributions of PIER to this effort were recognized by legislation extending its original charter through 2012.

The interim report notes that the PIER program has implemented many of the recommendations made in the 2001 report; according the the new report, the principal problems facing PIER at present are organizational limitations. The IRP concluded that PIER needs greater independence and that its management structure and relationship with the CEC need to be reconsidered if the program is to achieve its maximum potential.

Principal interim report recommendations:

  • Fill the existing knowledge gap. CEC needs to give the PIER director authority to fill vacancies.
  • Streamline the advisory committee process. The number of program-area advisory policies can be reduced and linked with the PIER Policy Advisory Council.
  • Give the PIER director funding authority. This will help PIER better integrate with R&D programs at the state and national level.
  • Develop a strategic operational and implementation plan to solve PIER’s structural problems. Two parallel plans should be developed, one within the CEC and one external to the CEC.