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California Utilities to Offer Clean Energy Options to Residents and Businesses

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved the "Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program," a measure that will give millions of California residents and businesses the chance to participate in a utility clean energy program for the first time.

The decision, which benefits the majority of the state's businesses and over 38 million residents, directs the three largest investor-owned utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company and San Diego Gas and Electric Company, which together cover nearly 80 percent of the state—to offer a Green-e Energy certified 100 percent renewable energy option to their customers.

The Center for Resource Solutions says the measure also encourages the three utilities to develop a range of green power options that will allow ratepayers at all income levels to use more renewable energy than the state's current requirement of 33 percent by 2020.

The measure, which passed the Commission in a 5-0 vote on January 29, directs utilities to seek Green-e Energy certification for their programs.

"Green-e Energy certification will provide consumers with assurance that the product meets the Green-e Energy National Standard," it says. "Green-e Energy certification will also provide customers with standardized, understandable information on the energy's attributes." The measure also underscores Green-e's open-stakeholder process, explaining that it is "developed with input from the public, including electricity users, generators, consumer protection groups, environmental policy and advocacy groups, renewable fuel companies, environmental regulatory bodies and others."

The Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program is the first step in implementing Senate Bill (SB) 43, which passed in September 2013 and requires the three utilities to develop clean energy pricing programs for their customers that go over and above the amount currently required by the state.

Last year, California launched Energy Upgrade California, a statewide education campaign to help Californians manage their energy usage, save money and help the state meet its climate goals. The campaign engages people to better manage energy and water through a multicultural advertising campaign, a comprehensive website, retail education, community-based outreach and education and social media.

California’s universities are also leading the way to a sustainable future. Last September, the University of California announced it will allocate $1 billion over five years for direct investments in solutions to climate change. In addition, as part of UC President Janet Napolitano’s goal of bringing university operations to carbon neutrality by 2025, the 10-campus university system signed agreements to secure substantial solar energy for the next 25 years.