A Message from SoCal Gas
With extreme heat and wildfires affecting so many of us, Californians are looking for energy solutions that provide reliable power and are also climate-friendly. SoCalGas Senior Director Yuri Freedman presents two important solutions that check both boxes—fuel cells and renewable hydrogen—in this piece published in the LA Daily News. These technologies help address energy reliability and reduce GHG emissions to slow climate change.
Los Angeles Daily News – OPINION
How fuel cells can make a more reliable power grid By YURI FREEDMAN | PUBLISHED: September 19, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. | UPDATED: September 19, 2020 at 11:07 p.m.
Californians deserve a lot of credit for conserving energy through yet another record heat wave during Labor Day weekend. It was a great example of how conservation can reduce demand enough to avoid rolling power outages like those we saw last month. Back-up generators that run on diesel fuel have also helped address high power demand during California’s heat waves, but at a cost of their negative impact on air quality and the environment. Instead, we need to look toward clean and sustainable technologies that reduce demand on the electric system, while reducing our reliance on burning diesel fuel–especially as we look to a potential future of even more severe heat and wildfires across the West. Part of the solution means taking advantage of technologies like fuel cells, which generate energy right where it is needed, independent of the power grid. At SoCalGas, we recently installed natural gas-powered fuel cell systems at two of our largest Los Angeles-area facilities. These facilities are critical to our operations and help us keep natural gas flowing to 22 million Californians. With 950 kilowatts of power between the two systems, these fuel cells replace more than 90 percent of the power that would otherwise have come from the grid. Electricity is produced continuously—so we don’t worry about public safety power shutoffs or emergency rolling outages. We always have reliable power. Not only are they reliable, our fuel cells also reduce GHG emissions. How? They make power right where it is used, and they are one of the most efficient power solutions available. Plus, fuel cells don’t burn fuel. Instead, they create electricity through an electrochemical reaction using natural gas and oxygen. Our new fuel cell systems will reduce GHG emissions by 683 metric tons a year compared to pulling that much power from the grid. That’s like eliminating the annual GHG emissions from using electricity at 112 homes. And because they eliminate combustion-related pollutants, the California Air Resources Board has certified these systems as a Distributed Generation Technology that do not require a generation permit, a designation given only to the cleanest technologies in the state. Individual homes can also be efficiently powered by fuel cells. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Japanese homes already use them to provide electricity, heat and hot water in a safe and resilient fashion. These home fuel cells are about the size of a refrigerator and cost about what a rooftop solar system would cost—around $7,500 to $12,000. Japan aims to install more than 5 million residential fuel cells over the next ten years.
Today, fuel cells can make the power grid more resilient. Soon they will also be an essential element of a zero-emissions energy system. This is because fuel cells can run on hydrogen, a zero-carbon fuel that can be produced using renewable energy. This is why hydrogen is often thought of as the “fuel of the future.” Hydrogen can be stored for days, months and years, then turned back into electricity using fuel cells. Fuel cells using clean hydrogen must be a key factor in meeting our climate change goals. In fact, researchers at the University of California Irvine believe clean hydrogen is the only way to get to 100 percent renewable energy in California. And a recent Caltech study found that including clean hydrogen technology for energy storage will make 100 percent renewable reliable electricity more affordable. That brings us right back to the central question: How do we maintain a reliable electric grid? Fuel cells and clean hydrogen should be part of the solution. These technologies can help keep the lights on during extreme heat events or extended periods of cloud cover. Moreover, they will help California reach our climate goals faster and cheaper than current policies. Yuri Freedman is Senior Director of Business Development at the Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas)
SoCalGas Introduces Contactless Enrollment Option for Energy Savings Assistance Program in Response to COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines
SoCalGas’ Energy Savings Assistance Program can provide eligible customers with no-cost energy efficient home upgrades worth up to hundreds of dollars
LOS ANGELES – September 1, 2020 – Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) today announced a virtual enrollment option for the Energy Savings Assistance Program, which continues to provide eligible customers with an average of $705 worth of energy-efficiency home upgrades at no cost to help improve the safety and comfort of customers’ homes.
“The safety of our customers, employees and contractors is of the utmost importance and, keeping in mind that social distancing is a very important component of helping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to offer a virtual enrollment option for our Energy Savings Assistance Program” said Jeff Walker, vice president of customer solutions at SoCalGas. “During this challenging time, it’s critical that we continue to support our customers and communities by providing reliable and affordable energy, while also maintaining the health and safety of our customers, employees and contractors.”
“Quality Conservation Services (QCS) is pleased to join with SoCalGas to have customers virtually enroll in the Energy Savings Assistance customer assistance program,” said Allan Rago, President at QCS. “Customer and contractor safety is always of the utmost importance and especially now, during these unprecedented times. We are pleased to be able to offer this easy virtual option and encourage customers to enroll.”
The Energy Savings Assistance Program provides eligible customers with professionally installed home improvements, at no cost to the renter or homeowner, that help conserve energy, reduce natural gas use and enhance safety, health, and comfort. Improvements may include installation of high efficiency washers, water heater replacement, furnace replacement, attic insulation, door weather-stripping and more. SoCalGas has helped over one million of its customers save on their energy bills through energy efficient upgrades.
To qualify for the program, the customer or someone in the customer’s household must be enrolled in a qualifying public assistance program or meet income qualifications. Please see here (link opens in new window) for more information.
Customers interested in applying can visit the Energy Savings Assistance Program webpage on socalgas.com or call (800) 331-7593. Qualifying customers will then be contacted by a SoCalGas contractor who will conduct their virtual enrollment via phone or video call.
In addition to the Energy Savings Assistance Program, SoCalGas offers a wide range of other programs and services. To learn more about these programs and services, or for more information on how to more efficiently manage natural gas usage and possibly reduce monthly natural gas bills, please visit SoCalGas’ website at socalgas.com or call (800) 427-2200.
Between 2015 and 2019, SoCalGas energy efficiency programs delivered more than 208 million therms in energy savings, enough natural gas usage for 127,000 households a year, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by over 1,100,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing nearly 238,000 cars from the road annually. These advances have also helped save SoCalGas customers over $229 million in utility bill costs. In 2019 alone, SoCalGas’ energy efficiency programs saved customers $55.6 million.
The Energy Savings Assistance Program is funded by California investor-owned-utility customers and administered by Southern California Gas Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.
SoCalGas COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Since March, SoCalGas has donated more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations for COVID-19 recovery efforts, including supporting the region’s workforce, feeding the hungry, providing bill assistance to customers, and more.
For more information on SoCalGas’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.socalgas.com/coronavirus.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Gas delivered through the company’s pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians— about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.
SoCalGas’ vision is to be the cleanest gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable gas by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its gas delivery infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers.
From 2014 through 2018, the company invested nearly $6.5 billion to upgrade and modernize its pipeline system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.