Addressing Climate Change through the ClimateSmart™ Program

Photo courtesy of Sempervirens Fund

PG&E customers remain committed to minimizing their impact on the planet by supporting our ClimateSmart™ program—from households and local governments to some of California’s most well known businesses. To date, approximately 30,000 customers have balanced out more than 686,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions through the ClimateSmart program. That is equivalent to taking more than 130,000 passenger cars off the road for a year.

Customers who sign up for the ClimateSmart program balance out the greenhouse gas emissions from their home or business by adding a modest, monthly, tax-deductible donation to their energy bill in an amount based on their actual gas and electricity usage. These contributions fund high-quality projects in California that reduce or absorb greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, refrigerants and methane. Watch a series of videos about the greenhouse gas reduction and capture projects supported by the ClimateSmart program.

On behalf of the participants in the ClimateSmart program, PG&E has contracted for more than 1.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions, which will be verified and retired according to the rigorous standards of the Climate Action Reserve’s offset protocols. Through March 2011, PG&E retired nearly 414,000 metric tons on behalf of customers enrolled in the program—more than any other organization using the Reserve’s protocols. By the end of 2011, the program expects to retire another 400,000 metric tons.

Organizations like the Palo Alto Medical Foundation have taken up the challenge of reducing their carbon footprint through the ClimateSmart program. With facilities in four Bay Area counties, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation must light, heat and cool close to a million and a half square feet of clinic space for up to 12 hours a day. Even after working with PG&E to pursue a variety of energy-saving strategies, these operations still produce greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why the foundation decided to go one step further by voluntarily offsetting these emissions.

As a significant milestone, PG&E signed a contract in 2010 with Environmental Credit Corp. to destroy ozone-depleting substances (ODS) released from disposed old refrigeration equipment. As part of the contract, Appliance Recycling Centers of America Inc. will collect and destroy more than 38,000 pounds of refrigerants from California sources, including disposed refrigerators, freezers, home and vehicle air conditioners and bulk chillers.

Besides eating away at the ozone layer, these refrigerants contribute to global warming with an impact ranging from several hundred to several thousand times that of carbon dioxide. By collecting and destroying the refrigerants, we will prevent them from being released into the atmosphere and impacting the ozone layer and contributing to climate change.

As another important milestone, the CPUC extended the program through 2011. The ClimateSmart program continues to make strides in developing key aspects of California’s climate change infrastructure. From educating customers about climate change to road testing new protocols, the program has helped create some of the substantial awareness and infrastructure that will be needed as California transitions to a low carbon economy.

ClimateSmart Program Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Projects
(through March 2011)

Project About Location Type Total Contracted Emission Reduction
(Metric Tons)
Retired Emission Reductions
(Metric Tons)
Garcia River Forest Carbon Project One of the first two projects verified and registered by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) Mendocino County Forestry 300,000 180,000
Lompico Forest Carbon Project First project to be verified under Version 3.1 of the CAR’s Forest Project Protocols Santa Cruz mountains Forestry 14,148 9,248
Arcata Community Forest Carbon Project First project of its kind involving a local government City of Arcata Forestry 40,000  
Big River and Salmon Creek Forest Carbon Project Largest CAR forest project created to date Mendocino County Forestry 600,000 200,000
California Bioenergy Dairy Methane Capture Project One of the first livestock methane capture projects in California Bakersfield Livestock 75,000  
Hay Road Landfill One of the first landfill gas capture projects in California undergoing CAR verification Vacaville Landfill 90,750 24,560
Yuba-Sutter Landfill First CAR project in California capturing gas from a closed landfill Marysville Landfill 47,000  
Environmental Credit Corp. ODS Destruction Destruction of 38,000 pounds of refrigerants from California sources Throughout California ODS 160,000  
Total 1,326,898 413,808


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