Even if you’ve been too lazy to do a thing about your carbon footprint, your energy use is a lot cleaner than it was several years ago, if you are one of the five million Californians who happen to live in the PG&E utility district.
As a result of adding more clean energy, PG&E’s carbon dioxide emission rate in 2009 dropped to 575 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) or well under half the national average carbon dioxide emission rate of 1,300 lbs/MWh.
While 34.6 percent of its electricity was made using natural gas, and 15 percent was bought on California’s wholesale power market, nearly half of PG&E electricity in 2009 came from non-greenhouse-gas-emitting sources, including renewable energy – wind, solar, geothermal and biomass – for 14.4 percent, and large hydroelectric (13.0 percent) and legacy nuclear (20.5 percent).
In 2010 PG&E further increased the percentage of renewable power in its portfolio, from 14 percent to almost 18 percent.
Generation that the utility directly owns contributes only 7 percent of the total 2009 emissions. This year, it begins work on three new solar photovoltaic plants that will be among the largest in California, ultimately totaling 250 MW, to be completed over the next five years.
With all the new generation coming on line over the next few years, I wonder how much further your carbon footprint will drop even without you doing anything special, you smug Californian, you.