April 17, 2020. Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and other important stakeholders have agreed on details of a proposed plan to offer renewable natural gas to customers, and have filed that agreement with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Stakeholders include consumer advocate groups (including the state’s consumer advocate), a national environmental organization, and various industry groups. Renewable natural gas can be used just like traditional natural gas to cook, heat homes and run businesses, and fuel trucks and buses. The fuel can be made when methane, a greenhouse gas that occurs naturally when organic waste breaks down, is captured rather than being released into the air.
The proposed program would allow millions of Californians the option to purchase a portion of their natural gas from renewable sources, just as many today can opt to purchase renewable electricity. The program is expected to create increased demand for renewable natural gas, which can help increase supply and lower its cost over time, similar to what has happened with renewable electricity created from wind and solar power.
“Replacing traditional natural gas with the renewable kind is a great way to reduce climate change emissions,” said Andy Carrasco, SoCalGas chief environmental officer. “People like using natural gas for cooking, hot water and home heating, so using renewable gas allows them to keep their preferred energy source while helping achieve climate goals.”
With the agreement in place, the CPUC can begin its review and evaluation process; a decision could come in the fall of this year.
The production and use of renewable natural gas in California has steadily increased since the enactment of a 2016 law requiring the reduction of methane emissions from dairy farms and diversion of food and green waste from landfills. Over 30 dairy renewable natural gas projects are now in operation in the state, and about 50 more are in various stages of development. Renewable natural gas from a San Joaquin Valley dairy digester facility began flowing into SoCalGas’ pipelines over a year ago.