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Greening the Energy Crisis

Oct/Nov 07
With the green movement going strong in California, energy crises that gave the state a black eye may be a headline of the past. In 2004, 10.2 percent of all electricity came from renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric facilities. Large hydro plants generated another 14.9 percent of the state's electricity.

Now, the Golden State's cities and utility companies are more aggressively exploring alternative energy programs, motivated by the state's $3.34 billion rate-funded solar initiative to establish solar energy programs and a mandate that 20 percent of utility company's energy portfolio must come from clean resources by 2010.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is doing its part. SDG&E's renewable, biomass energy came online in October 2007. Biomass power results from burning plant-based materials such as wood. "Developers are signaling their willingness to build these renewable projects," says Debra Reed, president and CEO of SDG&E. "We are committed to providing the transmission pathway necessary to ensure renewable energy from any of the projects developed reaches San Diego."

Southern California Edison (SCE) is also chipping in. The company issued a new power contracting option called "Biomass Standard Contract" that aims to help smaller biomass generators contribute to reaching California's aggressive renewable energy and environmental goals. "Governor Schwarzenegger asked our industry to find ways to step up the use of the state's renewable biomass resources to generate electricity," says Pedro Pizarro, SCE's senior vice president of power procurement. "We believe this innovative approach will do just that, prompting many small biomass generators to join California's growing renewable energy industry."

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is tapping into methane gas captured from cow manure. "Cow power" is the newest and most innovative way PG&E is realizing its renewable energy goals. "Biogas is a triple win for California," said Roy Kuga, vice president of energy supply, PG&E. "It delivers clean, renewable energy to our customers, improves the air quality of the communities we serve and provides farmers with a new revenue stream that would otherwise go unutilized."

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