At the annual Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Symposium leaders of California’s commitment to sustainability met to share the latest research, innovation, and plans for a better future.  Lead by the California Energy Commission (CEC) this was the top place to be. In attendance were CleanStart partners The Grant Farm and BlueTech Valley taking an active role, Progress Report companies Lucent Optics and CarbonBlu.

The leading fireside chat was led by Matt Peterson (LACI President), and featured panelists Dr. David Zoldoske and Jason Anderson from Regional Energy Innovation Clusters BlueTech Valley and Cleantech San Diego respectively, and Ilan Gur, founder of Cyclotron Road. All stressed that there is more demand for their services and the inefficiency of the VC model in supporting cleantech. They also noted getting an idea to a deliverable stage is critical to success. Dr. Zoldoske highlighted this is amplified in sustainable agriculture because innovations cycles are constrained by crop cycles.

From there EPIC kicked off with packed sessions on Resilience for Disaster Recovery, Battery Storage, and Building Efficiency.  Look for CleanStart Associate Kate’s Blog

Halfway through the day Sherri Pittman and Danny Kennedy of CalCEF introduced CalSEED and invited four startup companies from the prior years grant round to pitch. Sergey Vasylyev, Ph.D., founder of Sacramento based Lucent Optics, shared his innovation with the attendees.  Lucent Optics use light diffusion and concentration to better utilize solar light in offices.  

One of the more interesting panels at EPIC was Scaling-Up Clean Energy Solutions for Low-Income Customers. Panelist Maria Stamas of the Natural Resources Defense Council stressed we have the tools to reduce the carbon footprint of low-income areas right now. Stephanie Chen of Greenlining Institute highlighted projects in Australia and  regions around the world that have taken initiative to adopt current cleantech in sustainable development focused on underserved communities.

EPIC makes available over $160 million per year for clean energy development and demonstrations, of which the CEC administers about $130 million.  This event was the kickoff for the planning of how to allocate these funds going forward.  CleanStart will be watching this process closely to be sure our community knows what opportunities are available.  


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

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