All Together Now: The Case for Teamwork in Tackling Our Energy Challenges

By Tim Fitzpatrick

“We can’t do this alone” is a common refrain among those seeking to solve big problems. Addressing California’s energy and climate challenges is no different. Success will depend on engaging stakeholders, forging coalitions and enlisting partners.

This need for cooperation was a major focus at a recent discussion with PG&E’s Sustainability Advisory Council, a panel of independent experts that PG&E turns to for outside perspectives on a range of issues, including the future of clean energy to the importance of energy affordability and social equity.

PG&E Chief Sustainability Officer Melissa Lavinson welcomes Hector Barreto, the newest member of the Sustainability Advisory Council. (Photo by Chip Buchanan.)

Across these areas, the council said, one of PG&E’s biggest opportunities to make a difference is by bringing people together to find creative solutions and approaches — and then sharing those lessons far and wide.

We agree. In fact, PG&E is already moving in the right direction. In recent months, we’ve teamed up with Tesla, GE, BMW and others to test a variety of smart, sustainable energy technologies.

We’ve also partnered with cities in our service area to prepare for the effects of a changing climate — including offering grants to communities for resilience planning efforts.

“The challenge in planning for an uncertain future is that business plans have to be resilient,” said Roland Hwang, director of the energy and transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The question then becomes, ‘What kind of partnerships will be built to sort through the road ahead?’ There will need to be an ongoing dialog on all of these issues. The nation and the world are looking to the California model, and leadership and partnership matter.”

The advisory council was convened in 2016 to provide a forum where PG&E can share ideas and solicit feedback from thought leaders spanning environmental, community, policy and scientific disciplines.

Joining the meeting was the council’s newest member, Hector Barreto, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush and current chairman of The Latino Coalition, a group representing Hispanic businesses and consumers.

“PG&E is an organization that strives to be a leader, and that cares about integrity,” Hector said. “I look forward to engaging with the company in this new capacity as they look to communicate with communities and businesses on issues that are important to all of us.”

Just as important is PG&E’s ability to engage employees in finding ways to reflect those same values within our own operations. Melissa Lavinson, PG&E’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of Federal Affairs and Policy, announced the formation of a new internal sustainability leadership council to drive further progress in reducing the environmental impact of PG&E’s facilities, fleet and supply chain.

Melissa will co-chair the internal council with Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Laurie Giammona.

“Forming this group will help us to take a more holistic, longer-term view and make a broader impact within our operations,” Melissa said. “The council’s input will make us better and we’re grateful for it.”

Already this year, PG&E has been recognized as the No. 1 energy provider on the list of the top 100 corporate citizens, according to Corporate Responsibility Magazine. As we look to continue our leadership — and build a sustainable energy future for California — it’s increasingly clear that there’s strength in numbers.

Tim Fitzpatrick is PG&E’s vice president of corporate relations and chief communications officer. Follow Tim on Twitter @PGE_Tim

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