PG&E joins Obama climate initiative, pledges renewables, efficiency

Obama Clean Energy Summit

In a show of support for the Obama administration’s push for an international agreement on climate change, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. stood with President Barack Obama and senior administration officials at the White House as they announced new pledges by companies to reduce greenhouse gases and address the impacts of global warming.

PG&E was among the companies signing on to the administration’s American Business Act on Climate initiative, which is aimed at rallying U.S. companies behind the need for action on climate change ahead of international climate talks in Paris next month. The utility’s pledge outlined a series of actions it plans to pursue.

PG&E Corp. Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley was one of a handful of business leaders who met with President Obama and top administration advisers for a roundtable discussion on climate change.

During the discussion, Earley highlighted PG&E and California as evidence that smart energy policies can fuel innovation and drive emissions reductions. Earley said modernizing the electric grid is vital to achieving the nation’s clean energy goals. He said that an advanced grid is the platform for integrating and maximizing the benefits of a range of clean, efficient new energy technologies—from solar panels to electric vehicles, batteries and smart devices.

“A modern grid is absolutely essential to integrating and optimizing all of the new clean energy technologies we’re seeing today and to our success in achieving our shared goals for reducing greenhouse gases,” Earley said.

Such investments were among the elements spelled out in PG&E’s pledge, which also includes actions over the next five years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve infrastructure resiliency and enable the utility’s customers and employees to contribute as well.

Below is the full list of proposed actions PG&E pledged to pursue:

Facilitate deployment and integration of low-carbon, clean energy technologies:

·      Provide PG&E’s nearly 16 million customers with an electricity supply that is more than 60 percent carbon-free.

·      Support the implementation of the Clean Power Plan by working with the state of California and other stakeholders to ensure its effective implementation.

·      Invest about $3 billion a year through 2020 to both modernize the grid to make it more resilient and facilitate PG&E’s vision of the Grid of Things—a grid that will integrate distributed solar, energy storage, electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies.

Support customers and communities:

·      Continue to lead and innovate on energy efficiency by helping customers save about 4,400 GWh of electricity and 90 million therms of natural gas, avoiding about the same amount of power used by 600,000 homes in PG&E’s service area.

·      Weatherize 500,000 homes to help low-income customers reduce energy use, better manage energy costs, and increase safety, health and comfort.

·      Facilitate the rapid adoption of rooftop solar installations by improving upon our current ability to interconnect a solar system in three days or less—among the fastest process times in the nation—to the point where our interconnection process is fully automated.

·      Dedicate more than $5 million over the next five years to continue to invest in partnerships that support clean energy deployment in underserved communities, including support for solar and renewable energy education and funding for solar panel installations in underserved communities, working in partnership with non-profit organizations.

·      Work with regulators to agree on programs that will allow continued acceleration of repairs and replacements to eliminate non-hazardous methane leaks in our natural gas distribution system to maintain a near zero “workable” leaks backlog and further reduce other minor leak backlogs.

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