SoCalGas helps brace local governments for climate change impact

Qualifying local governments in the utility’s service area will be awarded $50,000 grants to help prepare for climate-change risks 

@TheSunGazette

LOS ANGELES – The hottest days of summer are reaching a fever pitch in Tulare County and California. Wild fires have ravaged structures in northern California and the neighboring Sierra Nevadas are no stranger to summer infernos. Now reports continue to stack up about the impending impacts of climate change on the state and SoCalGas is ready to step in and help fund efforts to whether the direr parts of the storm. 

Last week, SoCalGas announced it will award grants of $50,000 each to two municipalities to support local planning efforts to prepare for climate-change risks, such as extreme heat, wildfires, drought, sea level rise, flooding and other extreme weather events. 

The competitive grant program is designed to help cities and counties reduce the impact of such threats, which are expected to increase over the next decade. An advisory panel of planning and sustainability experts from the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC), Climate Resolve, and the American Planning Association-California Chapter (APA-California) will select the winning applications from across Southern and Central California. 

“Natural disasters, from Hurricane Harvey to the Napa Valley fires, have highlighted the importance of natural gas as a resilient energy resource that provides heat and hot water for homes, and on-site electricity generation for hospitals and relief centers,” said George Minter, SoCalGas regional vice president of external affairs and environmental strategy. “Resiliency means not putting all your eggs in one basket and maintaining diverse forms of energy that can help communities recover from climate change-related disasters.” 

“The American Planning Association supports efforts to improve community preparedness, resilience, and sustainability in the face of both natural and human-caused hazards,” said Ashley Atkinson, director of the American Planning Association Los Angeles. “Planners and local governments are increasingly being called upon to address these issues, and this grant program is an important resource for our California communities.” 

“LARC leads collaboration to reduce emissions and develop a more climate-resilient Southern California,” said Laurel Hunt, LARC’s executive director. “We are excited that this grant program encourages partnerships aimed at preparing our cities and counties to determine the best course of action for the region and maximize limited resources.” 

“Climate Resolve advances local solutions to global climate change, and works to achieve outcomes that bestow multiple benefits—sustainability, resiliency, equity, livability and prosperity,” said Bryn Lindblad, Climate Resolve’s associate director. “We are pleased to advise this grant program as it supports local communities in their efforts to plan for the increasingly significant impacts from climate change.” 

Grant proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria: Collaboration: The extent to which the proposal reflects coordination and partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders such as energy and water utilities, transportation and housing agencies, etc. 

Disadvantaged Communities: SoCalGas encourages applicants to address vulnerabilities in disadvantaged communities. 

Co-Benefits: The extent to which the proposal identifies potential added benefits of the adaptation work, such as benefits to public health, air quality, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and the economy. The annual grants will be funded by shareholders and will not impact natural gas bills. The deadline to submit proposals is Aug. 15, 2018.

SoCalGas is a leader in developing and investing in technologies that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change while keeping bills affordable for customers. Since 1990, the company’s energy efficiency and rebate programs have reduced emissions equal to taking almost 700,000 cars off the road and saved customers more than $670 million in energy costs. 

SoCalGas has also been working to increase the amount of renewable natural gas produced in California and delivered to its customers. Renewable natural gas captures climate changing emissions from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, agriculture and dairies, and then uses it for transportation, home heating, hot water, cooking, industrial uses, and generating electricity. Using renewable natural gas to replace just a fraction of the natural gas delivered in California would achieve the same greenhouse gas reductions as electrifying 100 percent of buildings—but at a much lower cost to consumers. 

In addition, SoCalGas is developing cutting-edge technologies that store surplus renewable solar and wind energy in the form of renewable natural gas or hydrogen for fuel cells. Renewable storage technologies use existing pipeline infrastructure to store excess renewable energy, and it can store that energy for months or longer—two important advantages over battery storage. 

SoCalGas headquartered in Los Angeles

SoCalGas is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers across 22,000 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. 

Natural gas delivered through the company’s pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants. SoCalGas is committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure, while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2013 through 2017, the company spent nearly $6 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. The company is also committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future, and is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas from dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants and the development of renewable energy storage technologies. 

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