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State awards Stanford $500k for energy use research

Stanford researchers will receive $500,000 to finance studies that analyze the effectiveness of motivational strategies and awareness campaigns in cutting back residential energy use. The funds are part of a nearly $3.5 million award underwritten by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program.

“California’s strength comes from the ability to invest in energy research across the board,” Commissioner Jeffrey Bryon wrote in a press release.

At Stanford, researchers will track energy use patterns with software, databases, Internet portals and sophisticated home power meters. They intend to provide real-time energy use statistics via in-home displays, computers and smartphone applications. The researchers will also test community programs and financial incentives in an effort to reduce energy consumption.

The findings are expected to help utility companies and local governments estimate what practices and incentives best motivate reductions in energy use. This, in turn, will help the state reach its goals for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction.

This grant will supplement the $5,006,011 awarded to Stanford by the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the $790,871 provided by the University for the project.

The Energy Commission has doled out money to several other California universities and companies, including UCLA, UC-Merced and Electric Power Group, LLC.

Projects funded elsewhere by the award include the development of hyper-efficient computer servers, research on the efficiency of light-duty vehicles, studies on algae-based biofuels and an examination of water demand in the production and consumption of transportation fuels.

–Tyler Brown

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