2008 Corporate Responsibility Report

How we are creating a smarter foundation for a sustainable future

Corporate Philanthropy

PG&E employees have volunteered more than 4,500 hours of their time installing solar panels and providing other support through our Solar Habitat Program.

Being an active member of a community means supporting the very organizations that help communities thrive. From food banks to wildlife conservation groups, PG&E has a long track record of giving back to the communities we serve and helping to address the pressing needs of our customers. This is even more important in today's difficult economic climate.

In 2008, we donated $18.7 million to charitable organizations, representing 1.2 percent of our pre-tax earnings from operations from the year before. As always, the company's charitable contributions are funded entirely by shareholders and have no impact on electricity or natural gas prices. A vast majority of these grants were made to non-profit organizations in northern and central California. We also make in-kind contributions and provide other forms of support to our community partners.

In 2008, our giving emphasized projects and organizations focused on environmental and energy sustainability; approximately 45 percent of our contributions supported these initiatives, up from 38 percent in 2007. In addition, these efforts helped PG&E ensure that more than 70 percent of the contributions we made with our overall charitable program address the needs of underserved communities, a strong result but below our stretch target of 80 percent. This includes contributions 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 2009, we expect to again provide $18.7 million in charitable funding, maintaining our 2008 funding level at a time of increasing demand due to challenging economic conditions. A portion of our 2009 funding will be used specifically to help low-income individuals and families pay their energy bills. We are continually assessing our approach to charitable giving to maximize our effectiveness and align our giving with the company’s strategic priorities. We give priority to viable local charitable partners whose projects address recognized community needs.

2008 Charitable Contributions


Benchmarking PG&E's Charitable Contributions


A recent study showed that PG&E's 2007 charitable contributions, as a percentage of corporate earnings, exceeded those of other utilities and nearly 200 large companies.

Source: The Conference Board Annual Survey on Corporate Charitable Contributions


Investing in a More Sustainable Future

The Solar Schools Program helps local schools meet statewide testing standards and brings the latest solar technology right into the classroom.

PG&E is committed to the goal of environmental leadership. One way in which we pursue this goal is by promoting a variety of environmental programs in the communities where we live and serve through grantmaking, training and volunteer support.

Examples of our environmental collaborations in 2008 included the following:

  • We added a "green building" component to our partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Since 2005, PG&E has provided more than $2 million to install solar electric systems on Habitat-built homes throughout PG&E's northern and central California service area. Last year, PG&E expanded the partnership by working with Global Green USA to pursue green building LEED™-Silver certification for 14 of the homes located in Contra Costa, Fresno, Sonoma and San Francisco counties. In addition to lowering energy bills, the program promotes energy literacy in underserved communities and increased enrollment in PG&E's free energy assistance programs for hardworking low-income families.
  • We again expanded our innovative and popular Solar Schools Program. Last year, we added 25 schools throughout our service area, raising the total number of schools to 125. The nationally recognized program teaches the value of alternative energy in underserved communities by installing a 1 kW photovoltaic system in selected public schools. The program also provides a solar-based curriculum training package, workshops and "Bright Ideas" grants for teachers to fund innovative projects that further the exploration of solar science. Since its inception in 2004, PG&E has contributed $6 million to the shareholder-funded program and trained more than 2,500 teachers, benefiting more than 125,000 students.

Meeting the Needs of Diverse Communities

PG&E has a long history of helping the diverse communities we serve to prosper economically, environmentally and culturally. We engage with a wide variety of cities, counties and organizations throughout our service area to better understand their needs, and to craft programs and partnerships that help our communities thrive.

Here are some of the highlights from our activities in 2008:

  • We supported the WE Connect campaign. Led by California First Lady Maria Shriver, this pioneering public/private partnership is designed to help California's working families become more financially secure by connecting them to important programs and resources. PG&E supported WE Connect events in San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno and Sacramento, where low-income working families obtained free assistance and access to PG&E's programs and a wide range of social services, including income tax preparation and mortgage information.
  • We continued our support for Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE). HOPE helps Latinas throughout California acquire leadership skills so that they can improve their local communities and participate more effectively in statewide and national forums to advance social change. In 2008, the HOPE Leadership Institute celebrated both its 10th anniversary and the graduation of more than 300 Latinas from the institute, each of whom is committed to making California a great place to live, work and raise a family.
  • We partnered with the Mel & Grace McLean Foundation to provide a matching contribution of $20,000 to help non-profit organizations in Humboldt County become more energy efficient. PG&E's contributions enabled a variety of community groups, including Food for People (a local food bank), to save money on their energy bills and focus more resources on their important missions.
Supporting Careers in Energy Efficiency

PG&E Fellow Mananya Chansanchai conducts research at the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center.

PG&E continues to benefit from a strong, active partnership with the Energy Efficiency Center at the University of California, Davis. Established in 2006 with shareholder funding from PG&E and others, the Center is focused on accelerating the development and commercialization of energy-efficient technologies—from LED lighting to building cooling systems.

PG&E’s contribution supports fellowships to attract and develop engineers and entrepreneurs at UC Davis, including two 2008-2009 PG&E Energy Efficiency Fellows, both second-year MBA candidates.

In addition to fellowships, PG&E supports the Center’s annual Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy, which brings together science and engineering doctoral and business students to interact with faculty, investors and industry executives to explore new “green” technologies. PG&E also supports UC Davis research, including examining the electricity consumption and energy efficiency of refrigerated warehouses in California.

As a Leadership Sponsor of the Center, which was founded by the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF), PG&E has pledged $500,000 in shareholder-funded contributions to support the Center’s programs and projects over five years.

Helping to Protect Diverse Habitats

The Urban Creeks Council and community volunteers help restore a native riparian habitat at Rheem Creek, located at Contra Costa Community College.

Last year, PG&E committed to providing $1 million over three years to the Nature Restoration Trust. A collaboration between PG&E and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Trust funds local community organizations to conserve and enhance the diverse habitats of fish and wildlife in northern and central California.

In 2008, the Trust selected 10 organizations to receive more than $310,000 in grants. PG&E helped select the projects as part of an Advisory Panel that included representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. EPA Region IX and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation staff. The selected projects feature hands-on experiential education opportunities, provide natural resource benefits and encourage collaborations with other organizations throughout northern and central California—from rural projects to more urban settings.

For example, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers will partner with local organizations to enable students to restore wetland and riparian habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog and Carmel River steelhead trout. And The Friends of the Dunes will develop a service learning curriculum and work with local students, community volunteers and the California Conservation Corps to restore four acres of coastal dune habitat.

Since this unique, public-private team was launched in 1999, it has helped advance critical habitat and wildlife restoration projects while inspiring youth to protect California's natural heritage for generations to come.

Last year, for the second year in a row, PG&E employees participated in a 100-mile bike ride through PG&E’s service area that benefits Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. PG&E has also partnered in support of the Best Buddies Jobs program, through which adults with intellectual disabilities gain employment. And last year, PG&E hired its first employee from the program, who joined our Customer Care department.