Top Ten Cleantech Initiatives of PG&E

PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric, provides electricity and natural gas to roughly 40 percent of all Californians. Because this equates to approximately one out of 20 Americans, PG&E recognizes the products that are produced and delivered to serve customers has an impact on the environment. Because of this, PG&E has an environmental commitment extending beyond normal compliance, and including all sectors of the business, including the delivering of clean electric power and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

1) Solar Schools Program. The PG&E Solar Schools program educates K-12 students in Central and Northern California on the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy. By making the school buildings hands-on science experiences, the Solar Schools program provides a way to make science much more interesting as well as educate students on how they can positively affect the environment. Schools involved with the program are outfitted with photovoltaic systems and receive a solar-based curriculum training package and workshops.

2) PG&E Solar Habitat Program. The PG&E Solar Habitat Program is a partnership between the energy company and Habitat for Humanity International for the funding of the entire cost of solar electrical systems on all Habitat-build homes throughout Central and Northern California. This is the first type of partnership that provides solar energy to limited income families, which furthers the PG&E objective to provide affordable renewable energy throughout the California community. Since the establishment of the program in 2005, PG&E provided over $2 million to Habitat for Humanity affiliates in California to build the solar installations.

3) Deal between PG&E and AT&T Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants. PG&E along with AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, has partnered up to make it the greenest ballpark throughout the United States. Through this partnership, the AT&T Park became the first ballpark to achieve Silver LEED status in 2010. One of the largest sustainability projects undertaken was the installation of 600 solar photovoltaic panels. Another large project was the installation of the Diamond Vision scoreboard, which utilizes 78 percent less energy than the original scoreboard at the ballpark.

4) PG&E Food Service Technology Center. The PG&E Food Service Technology Center provides energy efficiency consulting services to the commercial food service industry, including restaurant owners and operators, institutional food service providers, kitchen designers, and cooking equipment manufacturers. This center offers advice on a number of areas, including kitchen equipment test reports, design consultation services to allow business owners to design and get equipment that operates at maximum efficiency, on-site facility surveys to find ways to reduce energy, educational seminars on energy performance in kitchens, and equipment testing services to discover performance and energy characteristics of the equipment.

5) PG&E SmartMeter Technology. The SmartMeter Technology created by PG&E is installed into homes and will help in upgrading the energy infrastructure of California via automated metering technology. The technology will allow for new programs that will assist PG&E energy customers with using less energy, becoming more energy efficient and saving money off the cost of their energy bills per month. According to the website, “The SmartMeter system uses programmable solid-state meter technology that provides two-way communication between the meter at your home or business and the utility, using secure wireless network technology.”

6) PG&E Launches New Major Solar Energy Initiative. In April of 2010, PG&E made plans to begin the implementation process of a new solar photovoltaic program approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. When the program is compete, approximately 500 megawatts of clean energy will be produced, meeting the needs of an estimated 150,000 homes throughout the Northern and Central California PG&E service center. This is a five year initiative that will assist in providing more customers with direct access to solar power and create a number of new green jobs.

7) PG&E ClimateSmart Program. The PG&E ClimateSmart Program allows business owners and homeowners to lower the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from their office or home through environmental conservation. When someone joins the ClimateSmart Program, a tax deductible amount is added to the PG&E bill based on the energy use by the home or office for that month. The money then goes to carbon dioxide emissions reduction and capture products, including native redwood forest restoration and capturing methane gas from landfills and dairy farms.

8 ) Greening Vehicles Initiatives. For more than two decades PG&E has helped the push toward cleaner, efficient vehicles. PG&E itself have used their own vehicles to promote the pioneering use of alternative fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and lower the dependency on fossil fuels. Currently, PG&E integrates a variety of vehicle technologies in its own fleet, including focus on natural gas vehicles and bio-diesel fuels. In recent times, PG&E has been able to develop as well as incorporate a number of electric vehicles into their fleet along with a number of other high efficiency technologies. In the last year, for example PG&E added the first all electric bucket truck to the fleet, plus a number of plug-in hybrid electric and hybrid diesel electric vehicles.

9) PG&E Partners with BrightSource for Solar Power Deal in 2009. PG&E announced in 2009 that it was partnering with BrightSource Energy, Inc for a deal that would produce 1,310 megawatts of solar thermal power in seven different projects. The first of the solar power plants will be built in Ivanpah, California and provide 110 megawatts of electricity. The plans to begin operation are in 2012. In total, all seven projects will provide enough energy for the annual consumption of approximately 530,000 average family homes. “The solar thermal projects announced today exemplify PG&E’s commitment to increasing the amount of renewable energy we provide to our customers throughout northern and central California,” said John Conway, senior vice president of energy supply for PG&E. “Through these agreements with BrightSource, we can harness the sun’s energy to meet our customers’ power requirements when they need it most – during hot summer days.”

10) WaveConnect. By studying the potential of ocean wave energy as part of California’s overall energy future, PG&E is looking to explore the overall feasibility of utilizing wave energy because of its large potential as a renewable, carbon dioxide free electricity generating power and can become a major contributor to renewable energy in the state. WaveConnect is PG&E’s wave energy conversion technology developed to capture the energy waves make.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at

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