By Scott Drury, CEO of SoCalGas
A version of this op-ed originally appeared in CalMatters on March 23, 2021
America’s decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement reaffirms our national commitment to a global clean energy future. California lawmakers have set even more ambitious goals – carbon neutrality across all sectors of the economy by 2045. Southern California Gas Co. supports these goals.
As we take this journey to a cleaner energy future, it is vital that energy remain reliable and affordable for all Californians. No energy company is more intent on achieving that than SoCalGas.
That is why we’re making a commitment of our own – to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and delivery of energy by 2045.
SoCalGas’ commitment makes us the largest North American gas distribution utility to set an ambitious net-zero target that includes scopes 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions. We will reduce our company’s direct emissions and those generated by our customers. This means not only will the trucks we drive, the buildings we own and the pipelines we operate make this transition, but also the fuel we deliver to our customers will be net zero emissions by 2045.
SoCalGas’ commitment to net zero 2045 is a natural extension of our decades-long industry leadership. Since the passage of California’s landmark California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), our decarbonization, diversification and digitalization efforts have supported the reduction of more than 7 million metric tons of CO2e below our 1990 levels – the equivalent of removing 1.5 million cars from the road for a year.
The future of energy will bring increased integration of the electric and gas systems. As we make this transition, SoCalGas will continue investing in infrastructure and technologies to maintain a system that delivers affordable, reliable and clean energy.
We believe in additional investment in renewables and electrification, too. But electrification is not possible without increased investment in the gas system to support wind and solar energy when they are intermittent. Nor can electrification alone support decarbonization of our largest greenhouse gas emitters, the industrial and transportation sectors.
Recent power outages in Texas and rolling blackouts last summer in California, both caused by extreme weather, show we must have resilient energy systems that deliver reliable energy.
In the next quarter century, California’s supply challenges will continue, with power requirements expected to almost double. As more electric cars hit the road and an estimated 10 million more Americans move to California, there will be further strain on our power grid.
But models developed by independent third parties are clear: California can reach our climate goals and deliver reliable and affordable energy by accelerating the decarbonization of the gas system with renewable gases, deploying long-duration energy storage and innovating carbon capture technologies.
Policymakers can help accelerate the transition to clean energy by setting a clean gas standard, similar to the renewable electricity standard that helped advance solar and wind, as well as by establishing hydrogen-blending guidelines and other policies.
A successful transition to a carbon neutral economy requires leadership, effective policy and broad collaboration. SoCalGas has led. We can do more, and we will. Later this year we’ll announce further actions to deliver clean energy, including new renewable gas projects and blending hydrogen into the gas supply to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
There is no disputing that our state has led in many areas (e.g., fuel economy, renewable electricity, electric vehicles and battery storage). California, with its ambitious climate change goals is at the threshold of being able to do even more.
Next month, hydrogen-powered homes will come online in the United Kingdom. In Japan, homeowners can choose between a heat pump and a residential fuel cell. There’s no reason California, birthplace of the microchip, can’t catch up and surpass what’s happening with clean energy in Europe and in Asia. Through collaboration and partnership, California can develop clean energy solutions at scale and serve as a global beacon for energy innovation.