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Published on April 25th, 2012 | by Andrew

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At 50% Clean Energy, PG&E’s “Green Option” Looks to Offer Customers More Clean, Renewable Power

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April 25th, 2012 by
 
More than 50% of Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) electricity now comes from energy sources with greenhouse gas emissions of zero, but the pioneering power utility isn’t stopping there. PG&E yesterday announced it has requested California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) regulators for approval of its Green Option program.

Customers, public officials and environmental advocates have united in their call for PG&E and its peers in the California power sector to look for more ways to promote and foster renewable energy development and use and reduce their carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the company noted in a press release. “On behalf of our customers, PG&E is already one of the largest suppliers of renewable energy in the country,” said PG&E senior vice president and chief customer officer Helen Burt.

“We have heard from many of our customers, however, who want to do even more to support clean energy and the green economy. Our Green Option, backed by an independent third-party’s environmental certification, will give them that choice.”

Another Green Option for PG&E Customers

The San Francisco-based electric utility’s Green Option program entails it purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) “to match the portion of each participating electric customer’s energy that is not already covered by PG&E’s eligible renewable energy deliveries.”

RECs verify that the energy customers purchase comes from clean, renewable sources, such as wind farms and solar energy systems. Through the Green-e Energy program, PG&E will work with the SF-based non-profit Center for Resource Solutions to validate the voluntary RECs the utility purchases on behalf of customers who sign on to the program.

PG&E expects residential customers’ choosing to go for 100% renewable power by opting into the Green Option program will pay an additional $6 per month on average. Program participants can enter or leave the program at any time.

Joining with PG&E to help the program succeed are the cities of Berkeley, Carmel, Davis, Hayward, Napa and San Jose, all of which “plan to collaborate with PG&E to make the program a success.” Prominent environmental organizations are also lining up behind the program, which PG&E expects to launch in 2013 given CPUC approval.

“This program gives every PG&E customer an additional tool to help protect the environment by investing in clean sources of energy,” said Peter Miller, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We’re delighted to see PG&E take leadership and create a consumer-driven program that’s a win-win for Californians and the environment.”

PG&E in 2010 reduced its CO2 emissions from electricity sales nearly 25% to 15.6 million metric tons, their lowest level since the electric utility began publicly reporting them in 2003.

PG&E’s CO2 emissions rate fell 23% to 445 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity delivered to its customers. That was 35% lower than the California average and just 1/3 the national average for electric utilities. PG&E’s emissions rate takes into account emissions from both PG&E-owned power generation and power purchased from third parties, the company noted.

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



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  • Bill_Woods

    “More than 50% of Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) now comes from renewable energy sources with greenhouse gas emissions of zero, …”

    One word too many: “renewable”.

    “In fact, more than half of PG&E’s power came from a combination of non-greenhouse gas emitting and renewable sources in 2010. The mix consisted of nuclear (23.8 percent), large hydroelectric facilities (15.6 percent), and renewable resources (15.9 percent). The remaining portion came from natural gas (19.6 percent), coal (1.0 percent), other fossil (1.2 percent), and unspecified sources purchased through the wholesale power market (22.9 percent).”
    http://www.pgecurrents.com/2012/03/26/pge-reports-lowest-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

    • Akbweb2

      Odd here’s the direct quote from PG&E’s press release:

      “More than 50 percent of its electricity comes from sources that are renewable or free of greenhouse gas emissions.”

      • Bill_Woods

        Note the “or” — the 50% figure includes nuclear, which is carbon-free, but usually isn’t counted as “renewable”.

        What’s not clear is whether the large-hydro will be included, or whether this program only applies to the “19.4 percent of its electricity sales last year from eligible renewable sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and small hydro.”
        http://www.pgecurrents.com/2012/03/01/pge-makes-progress-toward-cleaner-energy/

        • Jonathan Marshall

          The Green Option relates to renewable energy sources that meet California’s strict eligibility requirements, thus not including large hydro. But we think it’s useful to remind customers that other sources of our electricity, including large hydro, are also clean.

        • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

          yes, thanks Bill, corrected.

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    50% is quite significant. Bravo California

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