Monday, July 27, 2009

Climate(Not So)Smart.

About a year and a half ago we posted an update on PG&E's voluntary "ClimateSmart" program and the results at the time were not so stellar. Only 17,500 people had signed up for the voluntary program to pay a little extra on their montly utility bill to fund green projects designed to offset carbon dioxide production.

Well how has the program done these last 18 months? Not so good.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that, to date, only 31,000 customres have signed up to pay the roughly $3 a month into the program. That's a little short of PG&E's projects-- like, 5.1 million people short!

In dollar terms, PG&E has spent $9.7 million on the project and gotten $2.6 million in return.

Guess who is funding the difference?

For anyone who said, "the state of California," we completely understand why you would think Sacramento would find itself on the hook for such a boondoggle, but we're sorry to disappoint. Yup, the answer is all of the ratepayers-- whether they are part of the program or not.

While ClimateSmart makes no economic sense whatsoever, let's give credit where credit is due and at least highlight the four projects it is actually funding (as reported in the Chronicle):

So far, PG&E's ClimateSmart program has funded four projects that capture greenhouse gases:

- The Big River and Salmon Creek Forest: Conservation Fund. Sustainably manages 16,000 acres of redwood and Douglas fir trees on the Mendocino Coast, allowing the trees to grow larger and draw more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

- Garcia River Forest: Conservation Fund. Manages 23,780 acres of forest in Mendocino County.

- The Lompico Headwaters Forest: Run by the Sempervirens Fund. Protects 425 acres of forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains from logging.

- California Bioenergy project: Uses methane from decomposing cow manure on a dairy near Bakersfield.