Environment News Service (ENS)

California Electricity Users Offered Greenhouse Gas Offset


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

SAN FRANCISCO, California, (ENS) - Pacific Gas and Electric Company has won approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC, to launch ClimateSmart - a new voluntary program that offers customers the option to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions associated with their energy use.

The climate protection program is scheduled to launch in spring 2007.

Conceived and developed by PG&E, ClimateSmart allows residential and business customers to pay a small amount on their monthly utility bills based on energy usage, which will fund environmental projects aimed at removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air.

The amount removed from the air will equal the amount of greenhouse gases associated with the customer's energy use, making them climate neutral.

Tom King, CEO of PG&E said, 'By empowering our customers to actively engage in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, we are leading the way in preserving California's environment and addressing the challenges associated with climate change.'

PG&E created the program as a part of its overall climate protection and environmental leadership strategies, including the support of state regulation of greenhouse gases such as AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted by California last year.

PG&E anticipates that ClimateSmart will receive approximately $20 million in its first three years, with a goal of removing two million tons of carbon dioxide from the air. The company says this reduction would be the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road for one year.

The first carbon reduction projects will focus on forest restoration and conservation projects in California.

'I commend PG&E for bringing this application to us,' said Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. 'As the warnings about the threat of climate change mount daily, it is increasingly apparent that we will need to pull out all the stops to prevent very dire consequences.

'This means we need both mandatory programs and market-based measures as well as voluntary actions by individuals and businesses, which this program encourages,' Peevey said.

PG&E plans to enroll as the first participant in the program by committing more than $1 million of shareholder funding over the next three years to make the energy use in the company's offices, service centers, maintenance facilities, and other company buildings completely climate neutral.

Devra Wang, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's California energy program, approves of the ClimateSmart program. 'PG&E has demonstrated its leadership in addressing global warming, first by supporting California's new landmark law to limit the state's global warming emissions, and now by pledging to reduce its own emissions and helping its customers reduce their emissions,' she said.

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