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California utilities play key role in state’s drive to reduce greenhouse gases.


Expanding the role California utilities play in clean transportation will accelerate the state’s transition to low-carbon fuels and reduce petroleum dependency, according to officials from Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

At the Low-Carbon Fuels 2008 conference held today in Sacramento, Hal Snyder, vice president of customer programs at SoCalGas and SDG&E, told state regulators and policy makers that the expanded use of natural gas and electricity in transportation will provide significant consumer benefits.

Not only are natural gas and electricity among the cleanest commercially available transportation fuels - providing a 15-percent to 60-percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions - fuel prices are very competitive relative to gasoline, Snyder said. For example, natural gas priced today at $9 per million British thermal units (Btu) is equivalent to about $2.65-per-gallon gasoline.

“California’s utilities are on the front lines of the battle to help the state reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and improve air quality,” said Snyder. “We can do that by assisting with education and outreach to customers about clean, low-carbon fuels, developing the fueling infrastructure and conducting demonstration and commercialization programs.”

In January 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger established the world’s first greenhouse-gas standard for transportation fuels and set a statewide goal to reduce the carbon content of California’s transportation fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020.

With the state’s 24 million motor vehicles contributing nearly 40 percent of California’s annual greenhouse-gas emissions, alternative fuels can provide economic development opportunities and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, criteria pollutants and toxic air contaminants.

“The Low-Carbon Fuels Standard is critical to the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and improve air quality for all who live and work in this great state,” said Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board. “California will continue to lead the way in developing and promoting sound environmental solutions to our transportation issues. We all have a responsibility to practice driving green and living green.”

Among their efforts to advance the state’s environmental goals, SDG&E is aggressively seeking renewable energy, including wind, solar and geothermal projects. SoCalGas and SDG&E also have committed to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions of their fleet vehicles approximately 15 percent by 2012. To achieve that goal, the utilities will replace company passenger vehicles with hybrid electric and compressed natural gas vehicles, and implement a fleet efficiency and optimization program aimed at improving fuel efficiency and driving habits.

“Whether it is acquiring green energy resources, helping our customers achieve energy efficiency or driving vehicles with lower emissions, environmental stewardship is a top priority,” said J. William Ichord, vice president of government relations for Sempra Energy, parent company of SDG&E and SoCalGas, who also spoke at the conference. “Furthermore, we believe that energy efficiency is the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible means to meet the state’s long-term energy needs.”

Ichord said, in the last 10 years alone, SDG&E and SoCalGas customers have saved more than 193 million therms of natural gas and 1.9 million megawatt hours of electricity a year through participation in the utilities’ energy-efficiency programs, with savings exceeding $400 million. These energy savings represent enough natural gas for 353,000 typical homes and enough electricity to power 53,000 homes for one year.

“I applaud SoCalGas and SDG&E for their efforts in helping the state reach its energy-efficiency goals and encourage their active participation in advancing the use of clean alternative transportation fuels, such as natural gas and electricity, as we look to reduce our dependency on petroleum-derived fuels,” said James Boyd, commissioner and vice chairman of the California Energy Commission.


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