PG&E to let customers gauge, offset emissions

Measurement trumps ignorance.

Link: MercuryNews.com | 12/15/2006 | PG&E to let customers gauge, offset emissions

Pacific Gas & Electric won approval Thursday [12/14/2006] to launch a program that will tell customers — house by house and business by business — how much carbon dioxide they emit every month, and then allow them to offset it to become “carbon neutral.” The program, called ClimateSmart, will begin in March or April. Participation is voluntary and will cost $4.31 a month for a typical household.

“We are convinced that climate change is a serious issue and we want to give our customers the opportunity to play a role in dealing with it,” said Wendy Pulling, director of environmental policy for PG&E. The program was approved Thursday 5-0 by the California Public Utilities Commission, a state agency whose members are appointed by the governor.

Under the PG&E program, customers who sign up will be given a monthly statement showing how many tons of carbon dioxide they were responsible for based on their use of electricity and natural gas. The burning of fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide, which traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere. An average home generates about 5.3 tons of carbon dioxide a year, PG&E says, about the same as driving a Honda Civic for 15,000 miles.