Posted on February 5, 2016

PG&E’s Carbon Emissions Remain among Nation’s Lowest

During another year of extreme drought conditions, PG&E kept the carbon emissions from its delivered electricity low, according to the latest figures made available by The Climate Registry, a nonprofit registry of greenhouse gas emissions for North America.

In 2014, the carbon dioxide emission rate for all of PG&E’s delivered electricity, including purchased power, was 435 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, nearly two-thirds cleaner than the national utility average. PG&E’s own generation facilities had an emissions rate of less than 200 pounds per megawatt-hour, which was the lowest carbon intensity among the 25 largest generators (excluding federal operators of hydropower projects).

Those results reflect PG&E’s strong commitment to clean energy and efforts to decarbonize the electric grid at the state, federal, and even international level. Late last year, the company signed on to a White House initiative aimed at rallying U.S. businesses around the need to take action on climate change, and joined California Gov. Jerry Brown’s delegation at the United Nations’ climate talks in Paris.

In an ongoing effort to provide cleaner energy for its customers, PG&E increased the share of renewables in its power mix from 22 to 27 percent in 2014. Today, about 30 percent of the power PG&E delivers comes from renewable sources, and the company has endorsed California’s recently enacted target of 50 percent by 2030.

PG&E’s 2014 emissions rate increased slightly, however, from the prior year’s rate of 427 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour for two primary reasons.

First, California’s continued drought conditions reduced PG&E’s emission-free hydropower output from 12 to 9 percent of our power mix.

Second, PG&E saw an increase in emissions from the natural gas power plants supplying its power. This was driven by the fact that carbon emission rates vary across these plants based on technology and flexibility, and PG&E’s calculations apply specific emission factors to each power plant in its portfolio.

PG&E also saw a slight year-over-year rise in total carbon dioxide emissions from electricity sales, increasing from 15.81 to 15.91 million metric tons.

In total, more than half of PG&E’s power in 2014 came from renewable and greenhouse-gas free resources. Those sources included nuclear (21 percent), large hydroelectric facilities (8 percent) and renewable resources (27 percent), including solar, wind, geothermal, small hydro and various forms of bioenergy. The remainder of PG&E’s power mix came from natural gas (24 percent) and unspecified sources (21 percent).

PG&E’s emissions rate accounts only for the actual renewable energy delivered to its customers. PG&E does not offset its emission rate with Renewable Energy Credits that are sold separately, or unbundled, from the clean energy they represent, or that are retired by any entity other than PG&E.

The 2014 figures have just become available due to the time necessary for a thorough, third-party verification of the emissions data in accordance with the standards of The Climate Registry and the World Resources Institute.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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