PG&E to offer 100 percent sustainable energy

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Pacific Gas and Electric, which services the city of Berkeley, unveiled a new program that would enable customers to buy energy from 100 percent renewable sources.

The Green Option is voluntary for customers, who would pay six dollars more per month to support sustainable energy production, according to PG&E spokesperson Jonathan Marshall.

“Those who really want to go the extra mile should have that choice,” he said.

The new option comes at the request of customers, officials and environmental groups to provide a simpler way to support renewable, sustainable energy and meet the state’s environmental goals, Marshall said.

City officials from Berkeley, Carmel, Davis, Napa and San Jose have expressed support for the the option. According to Neal De Snoo, energy program officer for the city of Berkeley’s Planning Department, the service would “give people an option to reduce their carbon footprint and help the community achieve climate goals.”

The option awaits final approval from the California Public Utilities Commission before it can be implemented. According to PG&E, more than 50 percent of the energy it provides to customers currently comes from renewable sources or sources free of greenhouse gas emissions.

Once customers can sign up for the option, PG&E will buy renewable energy certificates from companies that produce an equivalent amount of sustainable energy that the customers used.

Because energy from renewable sources cannot be differentiated from energy from non-renewable sources in the power grid, the certificates signify that the amount of energy used by subscribing customers was offset by the creation of energy from state-defined renewable sources.

In 2007, PG&E offered a plan called ClimateSmart, a program that allowed customers to make additional monthly payments that would be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions and fund conservation and restoration. The company dropped the plan last December because, according to Marshall, customers considered it “too abstract.”

Despite widespread support PG&E said it has received for the option, Marshall said the company projects only about 1 percent of its customers will utilize the option, a number in line with the national average for similar sustainable energy offers. According to Marshall, PG&E does not anticipate much opposition to the new option.