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PG&E's ClimateSmart Includes Bonus: Donations to Calcars
Jun 29, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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PG&E has just launched ClimateSmart -- a way for individual and business customers to voluntarily neutralize greenhouse gas emissions associated with their use of electricity and natural gas. It's a first-of-its kind program that involves signing up, paying an amount that's typically less than $5 a month for residential customers, which will be spent on California-based environmental projects that reduce CO2. The announcement is at http://www.pge.com/­news/­news_releases/­q2_2007/­070628.html.

There has of late been some criticism of the range of solutions that are now offered as "carbon offsets." (One place to learn about them is http://en.wikipedia.org/­wiki/­Carbon_offset. As the announcement describes, this program, which will begin with forest and livestock manure management projects and expand from there, has been carefully designed and will be monitored by outside parties to ensure that it meets three key criteria:

  • additionality: reductions that would not otherwise have occurred
  • permanence: assurance that the reductions will continue
  • sustainability: no external "leakage" or "unintended consequences" affecting other environmental goals.


PG&E hopes to enroll enough customers to devote tens of millions of dollars to the program in the coming years. Here's the CalCars connection. When I signed up my home's consumption of natural gas (normal rate), and electricity (significantly reduced by a rooftop solar system), I got an email that said, "your request to enroll in this exciting new program has been processed and will be reflected on your next monthly energy statement from PG&E. Going forward you will see your ClimateSmart amount noted on your monthly statement, along with how many pounds of greenhouse gas emissions your household or business will reduce by participating in this unique program.

And here's what the online page said:

ClimateSmart Enrollment-Confirmation

Thank you for participating in the ClimateSmart program. Your participation will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As a special thank you, PG&E will donate $50,000* on behalf of customers enrolled in ClimateSmart prior to September 30, 2007, among the three non-profit organizations listed below. PG&E is proud to support the following organizations committed to using this donation for California-based projects that fight climate change. Please select which organization you would like PG&E to support.

  • CalCars: Promotes the adoption of advanced technology, efficient, green automotive technologies, including encouraging auto makers to produce 100+ mpg plug-in hybrid cars.
  • Cool Schools: Equips middle and high school students in the Bay Area with the knowledge and tools to take productive action against global warming in their schools and communities. (Cool Schools is a program of the EarthTeam Environmental Network)
  • The Nature Conservancy: Protects ecologically important lands and waters in California, and is a pioneer in addressing climate change with innovative forest projects around the world.
  • I do not wish to participate.
  • *PG&E will donate $50,000 in shareholder funding among these organizations on behalf of customers who enroll in ClimateSmart. Contributions will be made on a percentage basis, according to the designations made by customers enrolling in ClimateSmart between June 28, 2007 and September 30, 2007.

    I decided to select CalCars, and was taken to a second page showing that currently, among the three worthy groups, we've been selected most by the "more than 700 PG&E employees and residential and business customers have joined ClimateSmart in an early enrollment effort" and by those who signed up since the program's public launch yesterday. So sometime after October 1, 2007, CalCars stands to collect a significant part of this $50,000 "signing bonus."

    If you're among PG&E's 15 million customers, we hope you sign up for ClimateSmart at http://www.pge.com/­climatesmart -- and designate CalCars for funds. Thanks to PG&E for the vote of confidence!

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