PG&E Launches Program to Help Customers Offset Emissions

San Fransisco, USA – A majority of Americans want to help fight climate change but few know of programs that will help them limit their carbon footprint, according to a study commissioned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The need to educate the public about combating climate change led the utility giant to create ClimateSmart, a voluntary carbon offset program launched Thursday. It allows residential and business customers to fund projects that will offset the carbon emissions generated by their energy use.

“The launch of ClimateSmart represents a major milestone in educating and engaging our customers in the fight against climate change,” said Tom King, PG&E’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “When coupled with our clean energy portfolio and leading energy efficiency programs, ClimateSmart empowers our customers with another tool to manage their carbon footprint.”

Participating customers will pay an additional fee to their monthly bill to remove the estimated amount of carbon dioxide resulting from their energy use, determined by PG&E’s new carbon footprint calculator.

Through a competitive process, PG&E will choose in early 2008 California-based offset projects in which it will invest. The projects, mostly from the forestry and livestock management sectors, must meet criteria created by the California Climate Action Registry.

PG&E estimates residential customers could pay as little as $5 per month.

PG&E, the program’s first participant, will pay more than $1.5 million during the next three years to offset the emissions of its company offices, service centers, maintenance facilities and other company buildings. Other participating customers include Longs Drug Stores, The Front Porch restaurant, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., among others.

Implementing energy efficiency in the brewery of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of many steps the company has taken to reduce its carbon footprint, said Owner and CEO Ken Grossman.

“We have also taken this opportunity to remove our carbon emissions from electricity and natural gas via ClimateSmart,” he said.

PG&E estimates the program will generate approximately $20 million in its first three years, with a goal of removing two million tons of carbon dioxide from the air. That is the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road for one year.

The study that spurred the creation of ClimateSmart found 82 percent of respondents had no idea what a voluntary offset program was. After learning the definition, more than half expressed interest in participating in one.

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