SDG&E’s Commitment to Sustainability
Net Zero by 2045
Achieving Net Zero GHG Emissions by 2045
On March 23, 2021, SDG&E announced a climate pledge of reaching Net Zero GHG emissions by 2045 . SDG&E also supports California’s aggressive sustainability goals, America’s most ambitious, that call for statewide carbon neutrality by 2045. In October 2020, SDG&E released its first ever Sustainability Strategy — Building a Better Future.
This climate pledge includes scopes 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions, which would eliminate not only SDG&E's own direct emissions, but also those generated by customers’ consumption of energy.
This robust strategy highlights SDG&E's commitment to long-term sustainability and includes a variety of aspirational goals to achieve a cleaner energy future.
Our commitment to sustainability is built into everything we do. Our approach to sustainability means we’re reducing our carbon footprint, fostering energy innovation & conservation and encouraging our employees and the communities we serve to take daily action to ensure a sustainable energy future for generations to come.
Read our 2020 Sustainability Strategy which outlines our Goals, Sustainable Operations, Innovations and Community Investment.
You can also find more information regarding sustainability in Sempra Energy’s Corporate Sustainability Report.
SDG&E Sustainability Goals
DO THE RIGHT THING
Each year we aim to:
Plant at least 10,000 trees (starting in 2021), support local biodiversity with the "Right Tree Right Place" program and intelligent water use
By 2030 we aim to:
- Divert 100% of our organic green waste, especially green waste related to vegetation management, from entering landfills
- Increase recycled water use to at least 90% at all our facilities
Sustainable Operations - Fleet Decarbonization; SF6 Alternatives
By 2030, we aim to:
- Electrify 100% of the Light Duty Fleet
- Transition 30% of our overall fleet to Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV)*
By 2040, we aim to:
- Operate a 100% ZEV fleet
- Deploy 100% non-SF6 equipment, everywhere feasible
"Outside in" Community
Each year we aim to:
Actively engage a growing network of external, community-based, nonprofit stakeholders that provides continuous constructive feedback and partners with us on meeting the needs of diverse, underserved and disadvantaged communities through sustainability initiatives
Creating Opportunities through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Actions
Starting in 2020:
We are advancing our commitment to engage, act, measure and report our performance related to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) with greater transparency and urgency. We are emphasizing five key pillars to track progress:
- Leading from the top
- Accelerating employee engagement
- Creating opportunity
- Driving conscious inclusion
- Partnering with the communities we serve
Sustainable Supply Chain
By 2025, we aim to:
Develop an energy-industry leading supply chain sustainability program
SHAPE THE FUTURE
Starting in 2020, we aim to:
Support California's goal to transition to zero-emission vehicles by accelerating our strategic collaboration of key stakeholders** to deliver an ambitious region-wide clean transportation infrastructure goal, address air pollution and solidify the region's leadership on the global transportation map; We will continue to shape constructive policies and legislation to ensure customer adoption and facilitate an equitable transition
Grid Modernization & Breakthrough Solutions
By 2022, we aim to:
Place two green hydrogen projects into service to offer long duration energy storage, increase system resiliency and reduce carbon intensity
By 2025, we aim to:
Plan and pilot a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to further expand and leverage distribution-level demand response (DR) as a means to reduce GHG emissions, advance resource adequacy and enhance grid resiliency
By 2030, we aim to:
Collaborate with industry leaders and implement at least one breakthrough solution that mitigates direct emissions from gas-fired generation
* CPUC and CARB Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) technologies definition includes full battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Fleet goals contingent on original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicle availability and funding approval through the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
** These stakeholders include local jurisdictions, regional agencies, utilities and other key stakeholders.
Hydrogen Innovations Toward Net-Zero Emissions
California frequently curtails solar production in the middle of the day because supply far exceeds demand on the grid. Surplus solar energy can be leveraged to produce hydrogen, a versatile, clean molecule that has a variety of uses. Hydrogen produced in this manner is commonly referred to as “green hydrogen.” SDG&E is developing two green hydrogen projects.
In 2021, SDG&E will build two hydrogen pilot projects with the goal of putting them into service in 2022.
Borrego Springs Green Hydrogen Project
This project will pilot hydrogen as long-duration energy storage, as a microgrid asset and as a resource for dispatch by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to support grid reliability. It will be located next to SDG&E’s existing Borrego Springs Microgrid in east San Diego County.
SDG&E will install hydrogen storage containers that can support more than ten hours of energy storage for a fuel cell. An electrolyzer will produce hydrogen when solar energy is abundant, and the fuel cell will convert the hydrogen into electricity when needed by the grid, such as during peak demand periods. The hydrogen assets will be integrated with the microgrid so they can help power the remote desert community during emergencies or other circumstances.
Palomar Green Hydrogen Project
At its Palomar Energy Center in the City of Escondido in northern San Diego County, SDG&E will install an electrolyzer powered by new onsite solar canopies to produce hydrogen onsite. This hydrogen will be used as a cooling gas for generators and as fuel for its first fuel cell fleet vehicles. Additionally, SDG&E will blend this hydrogen with natural gas as fuel feed for the electric generators and install a hydrogen fueling station.
Bringing You Renewable Energy
Approximately 40% of the electricity SDG&E procures to serve our customers comes from renewable sources, such as solar and wind – exceeding California's mandate to have 33% renewable energy by 2020. There are no coal contracts in our energy portfolio. In addition, we have supported the integration of rooftop solar into the grid by creating a fast-track interconnection process and developing a patented device (Renewable Meter Adapter) to make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to install solar. Today, our service territory – encompassing San Diego and southern Orange counties – has the highest solar penetration among major utilities in California. For those customers who aren't able to install rooftop solar, we established the EcoChoice™ program to give them the option to subscribe up to 100% renewable energy.
Solar energy is abundant in the middle of the day but goes away after the sun sets. For that reason, the ability to store surplus solar energy produced midday for use at later times is critical to grid reliability.
SDG&E expects to have 135 MW of utility-owned energy storage integrated into the local grid with the addition of the three new energy storage projects noted below. Currently, SDG&E owns and operates 13 energy storage projects, totaling about 45 MW of energy storage.
Top Gun Energy Storage
In June 2021, SDG&E’s Top Gun Energy Storage Facility located in the Miramar area of the City of San Diego will go into operation. This 30MW/120MWh lithium-ion facility can provide the energy equivalent for serving 20,000 residential customers for four hours.
Kearny Energy Storage
SDG&E is breaking ground in April 2021 on a 20 MW/80MW lithium-ion battery facility in the Kearny Mesa area of the City of San Diego. This facility can provide the energy equivalent for serving more than 13,000 residential customers for four hours. The facility anticipated to begin operation in summer 2021.
Fallbrook Energy Storage
SDG&E plans to begin construction in fall 2021 on a 40MW/160 MWh lithium-ion facility in the unincorporated community of Fallbrook in north San Diego County. The largest of its energy storage projects to date, this facility can provide the energy equivalent for serving more than 26,000 residential customers for four hours. It is expected to be completed in late 2021/early 2022.
Escondido Energy Storage
In 2017, we opened what was then the world's largest lithium-ion battery. The 30-megawatt facility in the City of Escondido can store up to 120 megawatt hours of energy, enough to power the equivalent of 20,000 homes for four hours. Inside the Escondido facility are 20,000 battery packs in containers that act like a giant sponge to soak up and store energy when it's abundant and release it when it's needed to meet demand or provide ancillary services (such as frequency regulation) to maintain grid stability.
Flow Battery Demonstration Project
We are testing vanadium redox flow battery technology in collaboration with Sumitomo Electric, Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), and the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The flow battery, located in the Bonita community in south San Diego County, is part of a five-year demonstration project. In 2019, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) connected the battery to the state grid, calling the technology "groundbreaking" and "promising." The 2-megawatt battery can store 8 megawatt hours of energy, enough to power the equivalent of about 1,000 homes for up to four hours.
1.5 Billion Gallons of Water Saved…and Counting
Built in 2006, SDG&E’s 566-megawatt Palomar Energy Center located in the City of Escondido not only produces more electricity than older plants that use the same amount of natural gas, it also uses reclaimed water (treated wastewater) in the electric generation process. The facility is the largest user of reclaimed water in Escondido, and it saved approximately 1.5 billion gallons of fresh water between 2017-2019.
Water-wise Landscaping at SDG&E Facilities
By making irrigation and other facility improvements, as well as replacing grass with drought-tolerant landscaping at our facilities, we have saved more than 220 million gallons of water between 2004-2020. Our headquarters in Kearny Mesa were re-landscaped in 2016 with drought-tolerant plants.
Transmission Tower Condensation Collection
More than 1,900 miles of transmission lines are needed to meet the energy demands of the 3.6 million people we serve. These lines are supported by a series of transmission towers. We thought of a cool idea to capture the water condensation that flows off the transmission towers and use that water for dust control and other operations near these towers. We collect the condensation in underground basins, which means no portable water truck is needed.
Our most recent data shows we have diverted or reclaimed more than 13.5 tons of waste since 2017. Efforts include reducing our food waste through composting the pre-consumer food waste from our on-site dining facilities and donating unused food to Feeding San Diego. By 2030, we aim to divert 100% of our organic green waste.
Since 2007, we have invested more than $2 billion to strengthen the regional grid against threats posed by climate change, in particular wildfire risk. Our grid enhancement efforts include replacing wood poles with steel poles, strategic undergrounding of power lines and an innovation that cuts power off to broken power lines before they hit the ground. To minimize the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoffs – a tool of last resort to prevent wildfires – we have developed and continue to develop microgrids. These mini power grids can keep our critical customers, often disadvantaged communities in our high fire threat districts, up and running when power on the main grid needs to be turned off to protect public safety.
Transportation is the largest source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in California. To facilitate the transition to zero-emission transportation – a key strategy for meeting California's climate action goals, we have been working aggressively to expand the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in our region. The infrastructure supports not only electric cars but also medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and equipment, such as electric buses, trucks, shuttles and forklifts. In addition, SDG&E is piloting vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G) and has set a goal to transition its company fleet to 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
In partnership with the Cajon Valley Union School District in East San Diego County, we will break ground on a five-year V2G pilot in spring 2021 that will connect six electric school buses to 60kW bi-directional DC fast chargers. The batteries onboard the buses will soak up energy during downtime and when clean energy is abundant on the grid (such as midday when solar energy production is at its peak) and discharge energy to the grid during peak demand hours in the afternoon and evening. The goal is to help ease strain on the grid, reduce energy costs for the school district, and explore a new technology that could be crucial for our pathway to net zero. Construction of the charging equipment is expected to be completed in June 2021.
Studying Climate Change Impacts
We were the first utility in the country to develop a dedicated Fire Science & Climate Adaptation Department. The department has built extensive collaboration with government, academia and nonprofit institutions to advance research and understanding of climate change. Because of our progressive wildfire risk mitigation program, our company was tapped to join the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience Initiative. As a leading participant in the partnership, SDG&E has collaborated with the DOE and 16 other utilities to improve the resilience of the nation's energy infrastructure against extreme weather and climate change impacts. The goal of the partnership is to identify the challenges the energy industry is facing today and work together to develop sustainable solutions. We are committed to adopting new best practices and innovations to continue our region's climate resiliency leadership.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)
SDG&E is a leader in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reporting, joining the California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) in 2003 and The Climate Registry (TCR) in 2008. We supported the development of GHG reporting guidelines early on and began voluntary reporting before reporting became mandatory. We also began third-party verification of our first 2004 emissions inventory in 2005.
SDG&E has a long history of supporting local environmental nonprofits and their initiatives through employee volunteerism and our annual Environmental Champions program. Each year, we actively engage with a network of community-based, nonprofit stakeholders who can provide feedback and partner with us to meet the needs of underserved and disadvantaged communities through sustainability initiatives. Our company is committed to facilitating a just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy, so vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted by climate change are not left behind.
We want to hear from you!
We value the voices of the residents, organizations and businesses in our region. If you have comments or feedback regarding our goals, our strategy or even concerns you may have around sustainability, please share your thoughts.
Additionally, if you want to be notified of updates on sustainability projects, progress on our goals or other announcements, fill out the forms below to connect with us.