Volunteerism and Community Support

Employee and Retiree Volunteer Hours

Many of our employees donate their time, enthusiasm and expertise to their communities and neighbors through our Volunteer Program. Whether it’s team building at a food bank or restoring parks and habitat, PG&E employees demonstrate time and again they are hard-wired for giving back to the community.

2007 was a record-breaking year for employee volunteerism. Through nearly 300 company-organized events and their own community efforts, PG&E employees and retirees collectively spent more than 107,000 hours serving in the communities where they live and work, growing from more than 89,000 hours in 2006.

In 2007, PG&E's Volunteer Program engaged the commitment and involvement of the company’s employees and retirees by providing the tools and resources necessary for company-sponsored volunteer events focused on the environment, education, emergency preparedness, economic development and emergency energy assistance. For 2008, the Volunteer Program will do the same with an even greater emphasis on environmental volunteerism.

Our Volunteer Program connects employees directly to the communities in which we work and live. In the process, the program provides important team-building opportunities for employees. For example, in 2007, a group of Diablo Canyon Power Plant employees spent a weekend working on restoration projects together at Sequoia National Park.

2007 Volunteer Highlights

Our annual Earth Day partnership with the California State Parks Foundation, at which more than 1,300 employees, retirees and their families rolled up their sleeves to help clean up and restore 16 California state parks. Tasks included planting native trees, cleaning up trash, restoring trails and repairing picnic areas. Over the multiyear partnership, PG&E has granted more than $850,000 to fund vital park maintenance and improvement projects. The state’s 278 parks comprise more than 1.5 million acres of land that needs to be maintained.

Our annual "Ring the Bay" event, at which we joined forces with Save the Bay to help restore important wetland habitat at three locations “ringing” the bay—removing non-native plants, collecting seeds and cleaning up the shoreline.

Community events, such as our annual Youth Achievement Camp for at-risk students in Fresno-area elementary schools. Held at Bass Lake, PG&E volunteers from the company’s Hispanic Employee Association joined dozens of local students, who teamed up for tree planting and other educational stewardship activities.

2007 Campaign for the Community

Our employees and retirees gave more than their time by donating to PG&E's Campaign for the Community—hitting record levels by raising nearly $3.3 million in 2007. This represents an 18 percent increase over the prior year, with an average annual gift of $473 per employee. Approximately 7,200 employees and retirees contributed to more than 3,500 organizations, including charities, hospitals, schools, environmental organizations and many other community groups—as well as the highest-ever contributions to PG&E's employee association scholarship funds. In addition to monetary donations, employees sponsored fundraisers, which included silent auctions and used book and bake sales to raise an additional $38,000 and a lot of enthusiasm.

A PG&E employee volunteers for a wetland restoration project at Santa Venetia Marsh Open Space Preserve, in partnership with Save the Bay and the Marin County Open Space District.

PG&E sponsored the Best Buddies Challenge, an annual bike ride benefiting Best Buddies International, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Our solar-powered bike added to the fun.

Photo courtesy of Teri Gorham

Supporting Wildlife as Part of a Regional Emergency Response

When the Cosco Busan container ship, bound for South Korea, crashed into the base of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge tower spilling more than 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil into the Bay, PG&E lent a hand to the response effort, providing expert volunteers and charitable dollars.

While PG&E had no involvement in the accident, a group of about 15 PG&E environmental specialists partnered with the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to conduct shoreline bird assessments along the Bay. Volunteers hiked miles of shoreline, monitoring local bird populations in an effort to find and document oiled birds.

The information collected by the volunteers was used by the environmental organizations to find and rescue oiled birds. The data will also be used to develop a detailed history of the effects of the oil spill on the millions of resident and migrating birds that use the San Francisco Bay each year.

The company also provided charitable funding to WildCare, the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center to support its Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia.

Helping Customers in Need

Partnership with HUD and Oakland Housing Authority

On Halloween, PG&E volunteers traveled to Oakland to trick-or-treat in an innovative way. Volunteers went door-to-door to help elderly residents in low-income public housing switch out incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

The event celebrated a larger partnership between the Oakland Housing Authority, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ENERGY STAR® and PG&E to increase energy awareness and reduce energy costs for our low-income customers. During October, more than 22,000 CFLs were installed at over 180 local facilities. Raising awareness of energy efficiency among low-income customers is a win-win for the environment, PG&E and our customers.

PG&E continues to help income-qualified and other customers manage energy costs, working in coordination with stakeholders, such as community-based organizations, non-profits, faith-based groups and federal and state agencies, through:

  • Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH), which provides one-time emergency financial assistance for customers in jeopardy of losing their energy services due to unforeseen circumstances. Sponsored by PG&E and administered by the Salvation Army, REACH helped approximately 30,260 households in 2007—a 176 percent increase over 2006. This increase resulted from a one-time infusion of $10 million from customer rates that began in fall 2006 and extended through early 2008. REACH is traditionally funded by charitable contributions from employees, individual customers and PG&E shareholders.
  • Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA), a rate reduction program for large households of three or more people with low- to middle-income.
  • Energy Partners program, delivered by approved contractors, which helps income-qualifying customers through free in-home energy education and measures assessments to identify energy-saving opportunities. We then follow up with steps that may include installing attic insulation and weather stripping for doors, making minor repairs such as fixing broken windows and patching walls, and performing safety inspections of selected appliances.

In 2007, PG&E also supported local governments in establishing Cooling Centers—a network of community centers and other public buildings where local residents can go to cool off when the temperature gets unusually high.

Reaching Out to Customers through CARE

PG&E is committed to meeting the needs of our customers, including those most in need such as our low-income and senior citizen populations, as well as people with disabilities. And while PG&E has been assisting these important customers for more than two decades, we know our efforts are more important now than ever before in light of rising energy costs, evolving demographics in the state and increasing demand for these services.

One of PG&E's longest-standing financial assistance programs is California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), which provides a 20 percent monthly discount on the bills of qualifying low- or fixed-income customers—saving them more than $2.4 billion since 1989. In 2007, more than 1.1 million customers were enrolled in the program, which represents more than 70 percent of eligible participants.

With CARE, we take a robust, multifaceted approach to identify, reach and enroll our low-income customers. Highlights from 2007 included participating in more than 100 community events, conducting highly targeted outreach (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese languages) and collaborating with 82 Community Outreach Contractors (COCs) to reach diverse communities. CARE supported the COCs with a monthly newsletter, quarterly regional meetings, site visits, training sessions and more.