SDG&E looks towards carbon neutrality with sustainability strategy


California utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has launched a sustainability strategy to “enable a just and equitable transition to a cleaner energy economy”.

The strategy draws on environmental, social and governance principles, as well as SDG&E’s accomplishments to date, to set out the company’s aspirational goals leading up to 2050 in the areas of environmental stewardship, clean transportation, grid modernisation, community engagement and company operations.

The strategy, which has been aligned with California’s climate policies, is based on the three pillars of parent company Sempra’s own values, ‘Do the right thing’, ‘Champion people’ and ‘Shape the future’.

‘Doing the right thing’ is focussed on building sustainability into SDG&E’s own operations and addresses issues such as waste management and electrification of its vehicle fleet. One goal is to plant at least 10,000 trees annually starting in 2021. By 2030 SDG&E aims to divert all organic waste from entering landfills. By 2040 a goal is to operate a 100% zero emission vehicle fleet.

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‘Championing people’ commits the company to all the people with which it is associated, including staff, suppliers, customers and others. One goal is to engage a growing network of stakeholders to partner in meeting the needs of underserved and disadvantaged communities. Another by 2025 is to develop an industry leading supply chain sustainability programme.

‘Shaping the future’ is focussed primarily on SDG&E’s grid modernisation. Goals include placing into service two green hydrogen long duration storage projects by 2022 and piloting a virtual power plant to leverage distribution level demand response by 2025. By 2030, at least one breakthrough solution that mitigates direct emissions from gas-fired generation should be implemented.

Caroline Winn, SDG&E’s chief executive officer, said: “It’s imperative that we move more quickly to address climate change with strategic investments and partnerships because the stakes are so high if we fail to take collective action now.

“As an energy company, we have an important role to play in the fight against climate change by not only doing our part to reduce emissions from our own operations, but to also develop and encourage the use of energy innovations that can make a difference.”

California climate goals

Current California climate goals include a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050.

By 2030, 5 million electric vehicles should be on the roads. By 2035, all cars sold must be zero emission and by 2045 all trucks must be zero emission. In that same year all retail electricity must be from renewables and zero carbon resources.

SDG&E intends to update its sustainability strategy to reflect feedback from stakeholders, changes in regulations and advances in technology.

SDG&E provides energy service to approximately 3.3 million consumers in San Diego and southern Orange counties.