SACRAMENTO – The nation’s largest service on Wednesday unveiled a multi-decade plan to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as it continues to use natural gas for energy production.
Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan is to remove as much carbon as it can from the air by 2040, five years before the state and California’s second-largest Edison in Southern California set a goal.
The company’s climate strategy also calls for more ambitious short-term goals. These include reducing emissions to below 50% by 2015, expanding the use of biogas, which is generated when food waste and other organic matter are broken down, to reduce natural gas production by 15%, and ensure that 70% of electricity supply comes from electricity supply. Renewable sources like the sun and wind, all by 2030.
The public service also plans to add enough charging stations to power 3 million electric vehicles and help customers exchange gas appliances. The latter seeks to address the growing trend of communities banning or severely banning gas appliances in new construction. Los Angeles brought together more than 50 California cities that approved such plans last month.
PG&E expects natural gas production to fall by 40% compared to 2015 levels, but the company will keep its three gas-fired power plants running.
With 16 million customers in northern and central California, PG&E provides more people than any other service in the nation. Its climate goals are one of the biggest targets set by major investor-owned services, including the imposition of aggressive clean energy laws in California, such as calling for 100% of electricity to be extracted from carbon sources by 2045.
Beyond the long term, the plan lacks a lot of precision. Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network, a group of rate promoters, said there is no support for rising prices for consumers. In contrast, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District recently promised not to raise prices above the inflation rate, as it works to meet the ambitious deadline to eliminate carbon emissions from its electricity supply by 2030.
“What’s lost is a specific commitment to availability,” Toney said of the PG&E plan.
The report also does not specify what level of emissions the company still expects to produce by 2040. To be clean zero, the utility would have to eliminate the same amount of air emissions through technologies that aim to capture and store carbon. . The report states that the company endorses policies that promote research and development of these technologies, but does not set out specific actions that the company will take in this area.
Pti & CEO Patti Poppe said details would come later.
“What I’ve learned over the years is that setting an ambitious goal is the first goal, the first step,” he said in a call to reporters.
Poppe said the company wants to ensure it can provide customers with new and cleaner energy sources “at the lowest possible cost.” The kilowatt-hour price that PG&E customers now pay is about 80% higher than the state average, according to a 2021 study by Next 10 and the University of California at Berkeley, Haas School of Business in Berkeley.
Last year, about 50% of electricity came from renewable sources such as the sun and wind. Another 39% came from the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which will be closed in 2025. Although Governor Gavin Newsom has expressed interest in keeping the plant open, PG & E’s plan does not envisage continuing its role.
To make up for that lost power, the utility is investing in more battery storage to save excess solar energy produced during the day for use at night, the plan says. In recent years, California has struggled on very hot days with enough power to feed the grid as more people turn on air conditioning. Increasing solar battery storage is a key part of the state’s strategy to prevent blackouts.
Ken Alex, a former climate adviser to former California Gov. Jerry Brown on climate and energy issues, said it was rare for utilities to choose 2015 as a benchmark for emissions. The state typically measures its progress in front of 1990 levels, which were lower than in 2015.
He also stated that the utility does not have information on the fire-related emissions caused by its equipment and how these are included in its objectives. California recently began calculating carbon emissions from forest fires in its overall inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, although it does not attribute these emissions to public services.
“These are real emissions, and they can overwhelm the system,” Alex said.
This story has been corrected to say that PG & E’s 2040 zero goal means that utility will remove as much carbon as it emits from the atmosphere, not more carbon than it emits.
PG&E pledges net-zero emissions by 2040, will keep using natural gas – Times-Herald Source link PG&E pledges net-zero emissions by 2040, will keep using natural gas – Times-Herald