California legislature to confront
global warming today
PG&E to partner with customers
in neutralizing carbon emissions
The will to reverse global warming has changed in Sacramento
and in Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) leadership.
By Pat Murphy
August 7, 2006
The California Legislature returns to session today with reversal
of global climate change at the top of its agenda.
California is the twelfth largest producer of carbon energy emissions
which scientists say causes the phenomenon of global warming.
California sours the skies more than most nations.
Murmurings of the phenomenon first caught scientific attention
in the 1970s, with former Vice President Al Gore later bringing
it to public awareness.
But skeptics prevailed in delaying public and private sector
Carbon emissions skyrocketed in the period from 1970 to present,
stated Al Gore in San Francisco at the World Environment Day conference
held June 4, high enough to cause world maps redrawn
in scant decades if political will isn't summoned to reverse emission
Will to reverse the phenomenon is now strong within the California
Legislature, within PG&E, and within the California Governor's
the debate is over. We know the science. We see the
And we know the time for action is now," California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenneger acknowledged in June.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom hosts California Governor Arnold
4 forging bi-partisan attack on global warming.
The California Assembly today will debate climate change legislation
authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez.
Photo courtesy of California Assembly Speaker
It is an unprecedented opportunity for all California sectors
to take the lead in ending the global threat, PG&E Vice President
of Governmental Relations Nancy McFadden reported last week.
"It is a precedent setting bill," McFadden told the
PG&E Vice President Nancy McFadden
McFadden worked for both President Bill Clinton and Vice President
Al Gore. She attended discussions on global warming in Los Angles
last week between President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, and Governor Schwarzenegger.
"If the legislation is passed it will be the first state
in the nation that requires mandatory reporting of carbon emissions
and sets a cap - so it's a big deal," McFadden continued.
"And that is what Tony Blair yesterday was talking about
because England has a cap."
PG&E has instituted many clean energy programs, McFadden
recalled, which now are being acknowledged.
"I do think that PG&E's presence in an elite group of
CEOs with the governor and the prime minister was a real sign
that policy makers view the company as a leader on this issue,"
said McFadden, who was accompanied in those discussions by PG&E
President Tom King.
King's presentation to Blair and Schwarzenegger prompted discussion
on involving the California public.
"It actually sparked a conversation among the CEOs about
reaching out to real people and giving real people real power
- giving them real power and giving them a role in how to solve
"It wasn't a new concept to all of them.
"The CEO from Timberland talked about some of the things
they're doing to empower their customers.
"The more retail companies actually were very familiar with
"I think maybe to the utilities this is a little groundbreaking."
In the last year, PG&E become vocal about the need for clean
emissions and consumer empowerment.
"The company was pretty silent about the issue until the
last year," McFadden stated.
"But now we are saying with a very firm voice that the science
is there, the problem exists, the time for action is now, and
we're saying it unequivocally."
More than 50% of the energy produced by PG&E is already carbon
free, McFadden pointed out.
"Which for a utility the size of which we are, where we
serve five percent of the energy users in the nation, is huge.
"Fifty percent of our energy is carbon free."
A new program for PG&E customer involement may begin as early
as this month.
"We want to make our customers be part of the movement to
address climate change.
"We have pending before the PUC our proposed program to
give customers an opportunity to be carbon neutral in their energy
use and to pay a small premium so that we can invest money and
neutralize the carbon that is used to produce the energy that
serves our customers."
One element of neutralizing carbon emissions would include forestry
planted in proportion to carbon emitted.
"It's a way of empowering people to be able to check a box
to say that they care about climate change and that they want
to do something about it."
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is expect to
approve the program soon, with a voluntary customer fee of approximately
The program will begin immediately once approved by CPUC. Californians
will receive instant email
notification of program launch.
"It's a first in the nation," McFadden said of the
"I think you'll see a number of utilities follow us once
the PUC approves it."
San Francisco based PG&E has committed large investment funds
to expanding or developing other clean energy technologies, reported
They include solar, tidal, wind, hydro, and biodigester divisions.
PG&E Climate Protection Program
Working with environmental organizations, consumer groups, and
others, PG&E voluntarily proposed a first-of-its-kind Climate
Protection Program and Tariff (CPT) to the California Public Utilities
Commission (CPUC). If approved by the CPUC, customers can choose
to sign up and pay a small premium on their monthly utility bill,
to fund independent environmental projects aimed at removing carbon
dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The first projects will be
forest restoration and conservation projects, and the carbon sequestration
and emission reductions projects will be independently verified
and then permanently retired.
PG&E hopes to enroll approximately 4 to 5 percent of eligible
customers into the program by the end of its third year, and achieve
reductions in CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 350,000 cars
off the road for a year. The program will be reviewed by the CPUC
in 2006, and PG&E is targeting 2007 to launch the program
To learn more about how you can get involved, contact PG&E