Being an active member of a community means supporting the very organizations that make communities thrive and provide a sense of the character of its citizenry, our citizenry. We do this by giving financial support, time, advice and technology to help make a difference and ensure the vitality of the thousands of communities that comprise our service area.
At PG&E, we commit at least 1 percent of our pre-tax earnings from operations to be returned to the community through grants to non-profit organizations and public service efforts in northern and central California, as well as to certain statewide and national organizations. We also make in-kind contributions and provide other forms of support to our community partners. In 2007, we donated 1.2 percent, or $18.3 million, to charitable organizations, a 25 percent increase from 2006 and the largest charitable commitment in the company's history. As always, the company's charitable contributions are funded entirely by shareholders and have no impact on electricity or natural gas prices.
In 2007, our giving focused on the environment and reaching underserved populations through education, economic development and emergency preparedness. Approximately 38 percent of our contributions supported environmental initiatives, up from 28 percent in 2006. A portion of these efforts helped PG&E ensure that 75 percent of our giving supported organizations working in underserved communities. This includes organizations supporting low-income communities, people of color, senior citizens, the disabled, the homeless, the working poor and unemployed and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
In 2008, we expect to provide almost $18.7 million in charitable funding, representing 1.2 percent of pre-tax income from operations. We will also focus our grants on environmental and energy sustainability projects, and strive for 80 percent of our total grant-making dollars to assist California's underserved populations.
2007 Charitable Contributions
Helping Customers Weather the Citrus Freeze
In January 2007, a cold snap wreaked havoc on the citrus industry in 13 counties within PG&E's service area. The damage to local economies was estimated to approach $1 billion and resulted in the loss of 12,000 jobs. When Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency, PG&E responded to help meet our customers' needs.
PG&E teams reached out to the affected communities in partnership with The Salvation Army, offering emergency assistance grants to more than 340 individual families for up to $500, enrolling low- and fixed-income customers for a 20 percent discount on their energy bills through our CARE program, making donations to area food banks totaling $100,000 and offering payment-deferral plans for qualified agricultural growers.
We worked with local TV and radio stations to invite customers to outreach events where multilingual volunteers shared information about the various assistance options available. In addition to organized outreach events in Orange Cove, the employees of PG&E's Fresno Contact Center held a food drive that delivered more than 1,300 items to the local food bank.
Investing in a More Sustainable Future
Ensuring healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities for years to come benefits PG&E, our customers, our employees and all of California. That is why we have placed a particular emphasis on environmental-related grants and are investing in a future that reflects our vision of how energy will be produced, delivered and consumed in the years ahead.
Some examples of our environmental partnership efforts in 2007 include:
- The expansion of our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which supports a core business goal of supplying affordable renewable energy to our customers. In 2007, PG&E announced a $1.2 million partnership with Habitat for Humanity International to install solar electric systems on every Habitat-built home throughout PG&E's northern and central California service area last year. PG&E employees have also embraced Habitat for Humanity, volunteering nearly 2,000 hours in 2007 alone. This partnership is an expansion of PG&E's Solar Habitat Program, which has supported low-income families in underserved communities with money-saving solar technology and energy efficiency resources since 2005. In 2007, the partnership outfitted 65 homes with solar panels, which will save each family approximately $500 each year in energy costs and prevent thousands of pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
- Our Solar Schools Program, which teaches the value of alternative energy by turning school buildings into hands-on science experiments. Since 2004, this award-winning program has been making science fun and teaching students how their everyday actions can impact the environment. In 2007, PG&E provided 40 underserved schools with a free 1.3-kW solar energy installation, bringing the total number of Solar Schools to 100. We also trained 1,200 teachers to deliver a solar sciences curriculum that meets the California Department of Education's standards for science, social studies, math and English. In addition to the schools selected for the solar panels, PG&E awarded nearly $200,000 in “Bright Ideas” grants in 2007 to support solar projects in the classroom.
- Supporting peregrine falcon conservation efforts through charitable funding and a well-established partnership with the University of California Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG)—the leading researchers working to address declining populations of the endangered birds. PG&E's support reached new heights in 2005 by funding a "nest cam," broadcasting the daily routine of a pair of peregrines and their young perched high on the company’s headquarters building. In 2007, the famous peregrines laid new eggs on the central anchorage of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, requiring a dramatic rescue by SCPBRG with financial support from PG&E. Our continued support also funds the group's educational outreach to hundreds of high schools and middle schools throughout California.
The diversity of cultures, religions and languages among California's communities grows richer every year. These changing demographics require us to continuously look for effective ways of speaking with our customers and the broader community about saving energy and money, public safety, emergency preparedness, clean energy and other topics. This includes offering both a Spanish- and Chinese-language version of our website.
Helping Non-Profits Go Green
PG&E is constantly looking for ways to partner with community-based organizations and support their needs using our expertise, time and money. Recently, a common theme has emerged—many want to do their part to help combat global warming and create a sustainable future, and are recognizing that, in some instances, they need to do more with less.
We are identifying opportunities to help "green" our non-profit partners and save them money in the process. At Project Open Hand in San Francisco, PG&E gave $200,000 to install a photovoltaic system on the roof of the food bank and a state-of-the-art thermal system to produce enough energy to heat 170,000 gallons of water per year.
The combined solar systems will save Project Open Hand more than $12,000 annually in energy costs and more than $600,000 over the life of the system. This savings will allow the non-profit to serve an additional 6,700 home-delivered meals a year and further its mission of meeting community nutrition needs through programs for people living with HIV/AIDS, the homebound/critically ill and seniors.
At a ceremony to unveil the new system, Bill Morrow, the Utility's President and Chief Executive Officer, was joined by local elected officials and community members who saw live readings of the new system's power generation and the corresponding avoided greenhouse gas emissions.
The solar installation is part of PG&E's $7.5 million commitment to increase solar power in San Francisco, which has also included donating systems to the San Francisco Food Bank and San Francisco LGBT Community Center. Each represents another step we are taking to help San Francisco become more environmentally friendly by reducing its carbon footprint and create a more sustainable future for the community at large.
Highlights of some of our 2007 actions include:
- Partnering with the University of California, Merced (UC Merced), located in the state's diverse San Joaquin Valley, to help inspire future leaders in energy efficiency, renewable power and related technologies. Our $1 million commitment over the course of the five-year partnership will help enhance student recruitment and retention by expanding the school's Engineering Service Learning Laboratory. The lab provides a home base for students working on cooperative engineering projects with community non-profit groups, such as A Woman's Place Merced and the Merced County Office of Education. PG&E also presented the university with two natural gas vehicles, as well as a fueling pump, for the university's fleet and students traveling off-campus for service learning projects.
- Supporting local 2-1-1 services, a new central hotline for social services modeled after 9-1-1 with operators who speak multiple languages and are trained to put callers in touch with local county resources. The hotline benefits PG&E customers as a single touch point for many services, including our programs to assist low-income customers such as REACH and CARE, and information on emergency preparedness. PG&E will also use 2-1-1 to disseminate information on cooling centers and emergency services during an extreme weather condition or natural disaster. PG&E has committed $850,000 to six county agencies to assist with the launch of 2-1-1. We are also supporting WE Connect, a statewide campaign designed to connect working families with key programs and resources.
- Investing in the future leaders of California through the HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) Leadership Institute. For nearly 10 years, PG&E has provided charitable donations and staff resources to this organization, which aims to create civically engaged, effective advocates for change in significant policy areas. To date, the institute has graduated approximately 300 Latinas who have become leaders at the local, state and national levels as advocates for social change. In 2007, PG&E supported HOPE with a $75,000 charitable contribution.
At PG&E, we strive to be active members of our communities, helping to support local organizations and initiatives that make a difference and improve the quality of life. A sampling of community awards received by PG&E for our efforts in 2007 include:
- West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce — Business of the Year
- A. Philip Randolph Institute — Community Theme Award
- Oakland Chamber of Commerce — Business of the Year
- Berkeley-Albany YMCA — Community Partner of the Year
- Asian Pacific American Leadership Project Award for Corporate Leadership
- Central Valley Opportunity Center — Outstanding Business Partner