On average, approximately half of the electricity PG&E delivers to its customers comes from a combination of renewable and greenhouse gas-free resources.
PG&E customers benefit from wind energy generated from an Iberdrola Renewables site in Sherman County, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Iberdrola Renewables.
The power mix we provided to our customers in 2011 consisted of non-emitting nuclear generation (22 percent), large hydroelectric facilities (18 percent) and eligible renewable resources (19 percent), such as wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro. The remaining portion came from natural gas/other (26 percent) and unspecified power (15 percent). Unspecified power refers to electricity that is not traceable to specific generation sources by any auditable contract trail.
We are aggressively adding more renewable energy to our power mix under California's renewable portfolio standard and are well on our way toward 33 percent renewables by the end of 2020. We are investing in a range of clean energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro.
We are using a variety of approaches to bring more renewable energy to our customers, including using competitive solicitations to procure renewable energy from third-parties and owning renewables projects ourselves.
PG&E can also purchase power from customers who install eligible renewable generation up to 1.5 MW in size. Customers can choose a full "buy/sell" option, which means PG&E will purchase all of the electricity their facility generates, or they can choose to use some of the electricity for their own needs and PG&E will purchase only the excess.
We have added more than 100 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic generation, owned and operated by PG&E, including three new solar plants dedicated last year in Fresno County.
We also continue to add solar energy to our energy supply through significant contracts with third-party developers.
Sempra Generation delivers energy to PG&E customers from a large photovoltaic solar power plant in Boulder City, Nevada, located about an hour southeast of Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Sempra Generation.
Benefiting our customers further, PG&E administers the California Solar Initiative, an ambitious program designed to boost the amount of customer-installed solar capacity in California. PG&E paid and reserved $137 million in rebates for 70 MW of both installed and currently active residential and commercial solar installations in 2011. This accounted for nearly half of the total customer applications to reserve funding for residential and commercial solar projects. Learn more about solar energy.
PG&E leads the nation by hooking up more than 60,000 solar-generating customers to the electric grid.
PG&E owns and operates the nation's largest investor-owned hydroelectric system, providing a safe and reliable source of clean energy for millions of customers.
The system is built along 16 river basins stretching nearly 500 miles—from Redding in the north to Bakersfield in the south. PG&E's 68 powerhouses, including a pumped storage facility, have a total generating capacity of 3,896 MW and rely on nearly 100 reservoirs located primarily in the higher elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade mountain ranges.
By allowing more water to pass through new streamflow release facilities, we are enhancing 22.5 miles of the Pit River and its associated habitat.
Although energy efficiency and renewable energy are playing larger roles in our plans to meet future demand, investment in new conventional generation facilities is also necessary to meet our customers' needs.
PG&E's Gateway Generating Station in Contra Costa County yields dramatically less CO2 for every megawatt-hour produced compared to older fossil-fueled plants and uses "dry" cooling, which allows the plant to use 97 percent less water than older plants with "once-through" cooling water systems.
We have also brought the Colusa Generating Station, a 657 MW combined cycle natural gas power plant, into service. The facility serves nearly half a million homes using the latest technology and environmental design, including dry cooling technology and the same combustion controls enhancements used at Gateway. Additionally, we have put the 163 MW Humboldt Bay Generating Station into service; it employs technology that produces significantly less SO2, NOx and CO2 emissions than the retired facility at the site, while also eliminating the need for "once-through" cooling.