Energy Efficiency

Amount that PG&E helped customers save on their energy bills through energy efficiency programs in 2013

Helping customers become more energy efficient is an important part of our core business and we offer a diverse array of programs and services designed to help them save both energy and money. In addition, over the last three decades, PG&E’s programs have avoided the release of more than 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, based on cumulative lifecycle gross energy savings.

Our Approach

California’s Energy Efficiency Model

PG&E’s efforts are an integral part of California’s model for energy efficiency, which has helped the state keep per capita electricity consumption nearly flat over the last 35 years while the rest of the nation has seen a steady rise.

Key aspects of this model include:

  • California’s “loading order,” which puts energy efficiency first for meeting new customer energy demand—ahead of renewable and conventional sources of energy
  • Decoupling utility profits from the sale of energy, which enables PG&E to aggressively pursue energy efficiency without the disincentive of a financial loss
  • Aggressive building codes and appliance standards that require Californians to build energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings
  • Legislative and regulatory support that makes energy efficiency a priority
  • Ready availability of energy efficiency programs, training and strong customer participation

Our Comprehensive Portfolio

At homes and businesses across our service area, PG&E is working to help customers understand, actively manage and reduce their energy use. We are partnering with local communities on energy reduction strategies; giving customers detailed usage data so they can track their energy throughout the month and better control energy costs; and providing incentives to customers who purchase energy-efficient products.

Our energy efficiency programs include:

  • Directly encouraging customers to purchase energy efficient products. We give money back to customers who purchase energy-efficient home appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers and water heaters. One online tool is our Home Money Saver, which helps customers choose the most efficient products to meet their needs.
  • Working with retailers, distributors and others to increase the availability of high efficiency products. This includes providing incentives to encourage increased stocking, promotion and sales of high-efficiency products such as lighting—tapping into a 2,000 member alliance of contractors and other networks. We also partner with manufacturers and distributors through strategies such as incentives for distributors who sell qualifying high-efficiency HVAC equipment.
  • Advocating for stronger building codes and appliance standards. PG&E is an active member of a statewide team that has supported approximately 80 building codes and 60 appliance standards in California, as well as about 40 federal appliance standards or test procedures since 1998.

PG&E reaches customers through a variety of channels and methods—ranging from self-service software tools that provide intelligent, customized insights and energy saving recommendations to one-to-one relationships through seasoned business customer account representatives who work directly with commercial and industrial customers of all sizes. We also serve customers through partnerships with state and local governments and through third-party energy efficiency specialists.

Energy efficiency has helped California keep per capita electricity consumption nearly flat over the last 35 years.

2013 Milestones

By investing in energy efficiency, we made significant progress in saving customers money, spurring innovation and making our economy more productive. Here are a few highlights:

  • Provided innovative financing options. We offered an on-bill financing program to help address up-front cost barriers for commercial customers and government agencies. The program provides funding for energy efficiency upgrades with no out-of-pocket costs and zero interest. By the end of 2013, the program funded nearly 500 loans for more than $23.5 million, with more than 750 additional projects in the queue.

    For residential customers, we work with CRHMFA Homebuyers Fund (CHF) to offer access to attractive bank financing for residential loans. As of the end of 2013, CHF had received commitments from banks to provide up to $20 million in financing to support energy efficiency projects for PG&E’s residential customers.
  • Partnered to serve customers locally. We actively partnered with local governments and community-based nonprofits to offer turnkey energy efficiency solutions tailored to the local area. Collectively, these programs saved about 14 MW, 96.3 GWh and 1.9 million therms in 2013.

    The foundation of this support is PG&E’s network of 27 local, regional and statewide government partnerships that implement energy efficiency and climate planning programs. The programs are tailored to individual communities, in coordination with the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative, and have served hundreds of cities, counties, small businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as thousands of low-income residential customers.
  • Advanced zero net energy building designs and technologies. We continued to prepare for a future with zero net energy homes through our hands-on classroom and ongoing pilots and research. We also provided technical assistance to architects and builders, including a locally-owned homebuilding company that unveiled a zero net energy home in Clovis in Fresno County. California energy policy calls for all newly constructed residential and commercial buildings to be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2020 and 2030, respectively.
  • Advocated for energy efficiency policies and programs. We shared the energy efficiency story at numerous venues, including global forums, Congressional committees and industry consortiums—reinforcing the vital role of energy efficiency in PG&E’s operations.
  • Collaborated with major retailers. We worked collaboratively with retail partners such as Home Depot to bring energy-efficient products to market. For example, ENERGY STAR-qualifying water heaters can now be found at more than 50 Home Depot stores in our service area. Through the Western Regional Utility Network, a collaboration of West Coast utilities, we also partnered with Home Depot to launch the country’s first advanced home LED product offered by a major retailer.

PG&E celebrated ENERGY STAR’s 20th anniversary at our corporate headquarters. At the event, we also received ENERGY STAR’s Partner of the Year for Sustained Excellence Award.

(Photo by David Kligman)

Measuring Progress

For the 2013–2014 two year energy efficiency program period, PG&E has a budget of $823 million—the largest investment in energy efficiency by any U.S. utility; in addition, PG&E has dedicated $313 million for energy efficiency programs serving low-income customers.

PG&E’s reported results exceeded the CPUC’s energy savings goals for 2013—achieving savings of 826 GWh, 160 MW of peak load and 31 million therms. These results helped save customers more than $155 million on their energy bills and avoided the emission of more than 720,000 metric tons of CO2.

Annual Energy Savings from Customer Energy Efficiency Programs
1 Annual energy savings refer to the first-year impacts associated with installed customer energy efficiency projects. All data is as filed with the CPUC in PG&E’s Energy Efficiency Program Portfolio Reports.
Annual Avoided Emissions from Customer Energy Efficiency Programs
1 Annual avoided emissions refer to the first-year impacts associated with installed customer energy efficiency projects. All data is as filed with the CPUC in PG&E’s Energy Efficiency Program Portfolio Reports.

PG&E can earn a financial incentive for achieving the CPUC-approved customer energy efficiency targets. Based on savings achieved through our programs, the CPUC awarded PG&E’s shareholders $21.6 million in incentives in 2013.

Historical Earnings from Customer Energy Efficiency Programs
  • 1 Shareholder earnings booked in a specific year reflect program performance of the prior one to three years.

By investing in energy efficiency, we are making a positive economic impact and creating savings that customers can use in other productive ways. In fact, a recently released report found that PG&E’s customer energy efficiency programs supported nearly 7,700 jobs and $1.1 billion of economic activity in PG&E’s service area in 2012. This means that every dollar associated with PG&E’s customer energy efficiency programs supported another 80 cents of economic activity.

Looking Ahead

As PG&E and California have demonstrated, energy efficiency can help save money, spur innovation, provide consumers with more choices, make our economy more productive and benefit the environment. While we have made tremendous progress over the last several decades, there are significant opportunities to do more.

We will continue to look for opportunities to improve efficiencies, explore new partnerships and engage our customers. For example, PG&E is piloting an initiative to use energy efficiency to enhance the local reliability of the electric grid. As envisioned, the project would use targeted energy efficiency to reduce peak demand, deferring the need for local investments in substation capacity upgrades.

Other efforts include expanding our on-bill financing program to residential as well as commercial customers to increase investments in energy efficiency upgrades. Additionally, data from SmartMeter™ technology will continue to have a large impact, with over 1 million PG&E customers receiving customized energy reports that let them know how energy efficient their homes are compared with similar nearby homes. Other opportunities include the use of automated controls for lighting and temperatures, and approaches to energy efficiency that tackle the comprehensive energy performance of an entire building.

In response to California’s drought, PG&E is partnering with 27 local water agencies and the Department of Water Resources to save both energy and water through energy efficiency upgrades. The partnership supports state agency efforts to achieve a 20 percent reduction in energy use by 2018.

(Photo courtesy of DWR)
(Photo by David Kligman)

PG&E collaborated on a home in Davis that is the ultimate in energy savings—it generates more energy than it uses. Complete with a home energy management system, rooftop solar and an electric vehicle that can fully recharge in two hours directly from sunlight, the home is part of the largest planned zero net energy community in the United States.

Our Sustainability Journey





Economic Vitality