PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2017

Customer Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability, which is why PG&E has worked for four decades to support customer efforts to reduce their energy usage. Our leading portfolio of programs helps customers better understand and manage their energy use, helping them save money in the process. We also work directly with customers through energy audits and home weatherization to make their residences more energy efficient. Key to our efforts is a broad spectrum of partners, including the private sector, nonprofits and local government agencies.

By helping our customers use less energy, we help maintain energy grid stability, keep customer energy bills affordable and meet California’s clean energy goals.

Our Approach

California’s Energy Efficiency Model

PG&E’s energy efficiency programs are built on California’s pioneering regulatory energy efficiency model, which has helped keep the state’s per capita electricity consumption nearly flat since the 1970s. In that same time period, the rest of the nation’s consumption has risen by 50 percent.

California has adopted the strongest greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in North America. Senate Bill (SB) 32 requires the state to cut GHG emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. SB 350 mandates a goal of doubling energy efficiency savings by 2030. As California’s largest energy provider, PG&E is committed to helping California achieve these goals.

In addition to this type of legislative framework and regulatory support, California’s energy efficiency model includes:

  • A “loading order,” which prioritizes reducing electricity demand through energy efficiency and demand response—ahead of renewable and conventional sources of energy
  • Decoupling gas and electric profits from energy sales—meaning PG&E does not make money through energy sales—which enables PG&E to aggressively pursue energy efficiency for customers without the prospect of a financial loss
  • Aggressive building codes and appliance standards that require Californians to build energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings
  • Ready availability of energy efficiency programs, training and strong customer participation

A Comprehensive Portfolio to Reach All Customers

As customers seek to understand, manage and reduce their energy use, PG&E aims to help by supplying detailed usage data. With that data, customers are able to track and understand their energy use and better control energy costs. We also provide rebates to encourage customers to purchase energy efficient products.

We reach customers through a variety of channels, from self-service software tools that provide customized energy insights to PG&E’s seasoned business customer account representatives, who provide ongoing support for commercial and industrial customers of all sizes. To increase our impact, we also partner with state and local governments, community partners and third-party energy efficiency specialists.

Our energy efficiency priorities include:

  • Working to increase affordability for residential, commercial and government customers. Energy efficiency is the first step in reducing overall usage and key to reducing energy bills. We offer an energy efficiency financing program to address up-front cost barriers for commercial customers and government agencies. We also provide rebates to residential customers when they buy energy efficient appliances.
  • Giving customers access to their data to support smart energy planning. Understanding the energy efficiency opportunities unique to each customer is central to making smart decisions about investments in building upgrades. More and more, customers want control and access to their energy usage information, so PG&E is working with manufacturers to bring to market devices that are connected to the internet.
  • Collaborating with retailers, distributors and others to increase the availability of high-efficiency products. We provide incentives to retailers for stocking, promoting and selling energy efficient products. We support a network of trade professionals who sell, install or service products, and we partner with manufacturers and distributors by offering incentives for the sale of high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
  • Advocating for stronger building codes and appliance standards. Since 1998, PG&E has been an active member of a statewide team that has provided technical support for developing more than 120 building codes and 56 appliance standards in the state, as well as more than 100 federal appliance standards or test procedures.
  • Advancing Zero Net Energy (ZNE) design and technology. We continue to prepare for a future of ZNE with our hands-on display house, ongoing demonstrations, pilot projects and classes for building professionals. California’s goal is for all newly constructed residential and commercial buildings to be ZNE by 2020 and 2030, respectively.
  • Engaging communities through proactive outreach. We partner with local governments, school districts and community-based nonprofits to offer energy efficiency solutions and community outreach to expand customer participation in PG&E programs. Key to this support is PG&E’s network of local, regional and statewide government partnerships that implement energy efficiency and climate planning programs tailored to individual communities. We have served hundreds of cities, counties, small businesses and nonprofits, as well as thousands of low-income residential customers.

Education and Training in Energy Efficiency

PG&E operates three training centers that offer a variety of energy efficiency education and training programs for building professionals, including architects, designers, engineers, contractors and technicians:

  • Energy Training Center in Stockton
  • Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco
  • Food Service Technology Center in San Ramon

These centers offer specialized classes on topics such as residential building weatherization, constructing and maintaining energy efficient commercial buildings, and maximizing energy performance in commercial kitchens. PG&E also offers a Tool Lending Library that loans building-measurement equipment at no cost to anyone working on short-term energy efficiency projects.

To provide these courses, the centers collaborate with community colleges, trade and professional organizations, state colleges and universities, community-based organizations and other training providers.

2016 Milestones

Our customer energy efficiency programs continue to increase affordability and promote economic growth. Highlights from 2016 include:

  • Expanded our energy efficiency financing program, which provides commercial customers and government agencies with loans for energy efficiency upgrades with no out-of-pocket costs and zero interest. By the end of 2016, the program funded more than 1,700 loans worth more than $75 million. The majority of loans went to small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as local governments.
  • Increased efforts to transform the market for energy efficient appliances and electronics, in coordination with the ENERGY STAR program and with other electric and gas providers. PG&E works with retailers to promote and sell more high-efficiency products across five product categories to our customers. This is an important step toward achieving California's goal for a 40 percent reduction in plug loads (energy used by products powered by a plug) by 2020.
  • Advanced ZNE building design and technology in partnership with six builders, including Habitat for Humanity, by providing technical assistance, incremental cost support and monitoring to document a full year of performance. Other examples of ZNE outreach included offering commissioning and design classes at the Stockton Energy Center.
  • Offered education and training to architects and other building professionals to help them gain new skills and expertise in energy efficient design and construction at our three training centers, holding 340 training sessions and providing more than 1,400 technical consultations.
  • Led engagement regarding the water-energy nexus by hosting seminars on model water efficient landscape ordinances, supporting a Zero Net Energy-Zero Net Water conference with the Society for Building Science Educators, and offering our annual Water Conservation Showcase. Additionally PG&E continued offerings such as the Simple Savings Kits, which provided low-cost ways for residential customers to save energy and water in the home.

Measuring Progress

PG&E exceeded the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) energy savings goals for 2016, achieving savings of 1,406 GWh, 292 MW of peak load and 23.6 million therms. These results helped save customers $258 million on their energy bills and avoided the emission of approximately 1.4 million metric tons of CO2.

Annual Energy Savings Footnote 1 from Customer Energy Efficiency Programs
2014 2015 2016
Megawatts (peak) 164 295 292
Gigawatt Hours (total) 845 1,392 1,406
Million Therms 29 23 24
  • 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 Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Energy Efficiency Program Portfolio Reports.
Annual Avoided Emissions Footnote 1 from Customer Energy Efficiency Programs
2014 2015 2016
CO2 Avoided (metric tons) 776,851 1,198,636 1,429,543
NOX Avoided (tons) 211 229 296
  • 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 Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Energy Efficiency Program Portfolio Reports.

Looking Ahead

PG&E’s ongoing commitment to energy efficiency programs and policies will continue to support California’s standing as the national leader in energy efficiency. In 2017, Pacific Gas and Electric Company filed its Energy Efficiency Business Plan, which lays out a vision for our energy efficiency programs over the next 10 years in alignment with California’s broader energy efficiency strategy. This includes changes in our approach to adapt to the state’s SB 350 goals, which call for a doubling of energy efficiency, as well as efforts such as Assembly Bill (AB) 793, which incentivize energy management technology for residential and commercial customers.

PG&E’s plan for the future is built on three guiding principles:

  1. Scaling energy efficiency in a cost-effective way,
  2. Making energy efficiency offerings easier to access by streamlining our portfolio, and
  3. Developing energy efficiency as a cost-effective grid resource that is integrated within PG&E with other distributed energy resources.