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More than 50% of PG&E's electricity sales come from renewable sources that put out zero CO2 emissions, but it isn't stopping there. The California electric utility has requested CPUC regulators to approve its Green Option program.

Air Quality

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

More than 50% of PG&E’s electricity sales come from renewable sources that put out zero CO2 emissions, but it isn’t stopping there. The California electric utility has requested CPUC regulators to approve its Green Option program.

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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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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