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PG&E, San Francisco Bury Hatchet, Pursue Joint Energy Program

Often at odds in the past when utility takeover measures regularly appeared on the municipal ballot, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the City/County of San Francisco Tuesday continued their newfound lovefest, joining hands in a new collaborative effort to deliver energy savings/efficiency programs to residential and commercial customers in the utility's headquarters city. Running through next year, the three-year San Francisco Energy Watch effort will spend up to $11.5 million to achieve millions more dollars in savings, the utility said.

Centered in the San Francisco environmental department, the Energy Watch partnership will provide incentive programs, training, education, and technical assistance for small businesses and residential customers. The program goal is to hit 43 million kWh of electricity and 335,000 therms of natural gas equivalent savings.

"With a shared commitment to making this the greenest city in the nation, we're thrilled to partner with San Francisco and the Energy Watch Program," said Helen Burt, senior vice president of customer care at PG&E. The utility intends to find innovative energy efficiency programs through the program to reduce overall energy use and lessen the threat of global climate change.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom stressed that energy efficiency is a "top priority" in the city meeting its environmental goals. He called the Energy Watch program "a great example of how two innovative organizations can partner to create real solutions."

San Francisco's environment department will act as an energy service provider to customers, identifying a full range of options for potential energy upgrades to their property. Through the city department, residents and business can take advantage of incentives that would be funneled from PG&E from the ongoing stepped up energy efficiency program that is prepared to spend several billion dollars statewide over the next five years.

"This comprehensive approach avoids lost energy-savings opportunities, increases customers' awareness of how to reduce their energy use, and reduces marketing costs by allowing [the city department] to maintain continuous contact after the initial marketing response," a PG&E spokesperson said.

PG&E has committed to spend $1 billion on energy efficiency over the three-year period (2006-2008). The utility said it now has partnerships with 22 local and statewide organizations.

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