Electrical power generation accounts for 40% of total annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the US. Such a high concentration of GHGs is due to our reliance on highly polluting fossil fuels, especially domestic coal. Yet, while the popular press focuses on the recent growth in renewable energy, it still provides only 2% of our total electrical needs today.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak independently with both Tom Auzenne from the City of Palo Alto Utilities. We spoke about consumer interest in renewable energy, barriers for greater adoption by consumers and key reasons for this program's success. Here is what Tom Auzenne had to say:
MG: Who purchases renewable energy in Palo Alto? What is the mix between residential, commercial and governmental entities?
TA: PaloAltoGreen (PAG) is the City of Palo Alto's 100% renewable energy optional program open to all residential and commercial customers with an active electric service provide by the City of Palo Alto Utilities. The program has about 20% of the customers involved, with residential customers making up on average 95% of the mix and the commercial customers at 5%. Our residential sales account for roughly 60% of the program sales with commercial and governmental making up the rest.
However, starting with July 2008, both the City of Palo Alto (CPA) and the Regional Water Quality Plant (RWQCP) are increasing their commitment to buy renewable energy equal to 30% of their total usage, a ten-fold leap from the previous 3% of total usage purchases. This will increase the percentage of nonresidential customers in the program.