On PG&E's philosophy of growing with love
Carla PetermanExecutive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, PG&E Corporation
Carla Peterman is Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer for PG&E Corporation, the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The company provides natural gas and electric service to approximately 16 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California. Peterman spoke recently with Joel Makower, CEO and founder of GreenBiz, about how the company approaches energy issues.
She began by noting that 93 percent of the power PG&E delivered in 2021 was carbon-free. She went on to say that the company is going beyond its core mission of providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy services. “It's really about making the lives of our communities better,” she said, noting that the company has updated its purpose and mission statement to be about “delivering for our hometowns, serving our planet, and leading with love.”
When Makower asked her what it means for an energy utility to lead with love, she explained that it involves solving problems for its customers, “being patient . . . showing up to our communities and saying, ‘We're here to make it right, we're here to make it safer, and we're here to listen, and own our mistakes of the past.’”
She also emphasized the partnership between PG&E and its end users: “To be successful, we have to create solutions with our customers. Gone are the days when an energy company could handle it all on its own. We know that in order to deliver power and gas to our customers in an affordable way, we need their engagement. We need customers doing demand response. We need customers investing in energy efficiency.”
To help deepen their connections with customers, PG&E has started community advisory groups, which are composed of experts or leaders in communities, who provide feedback to the company. There is a customer advisory group and a community advisory group, as well as a sustainability advisory council.
Peterman sees a win-win opportunity in electric vehicles, given that one of out six of them in the United States operate in the PG&E service area. These vehicles help people decarbonize their transportation, while also helping manage demand when there are peaks. Peterman points to pilot projects with General Motors and Ford on vehicle-grid integration.
Asked about the biggest untapped opportunity in the ESG space, Peterman points to transportation electrification, but also coordination between the electric and gas sector decarbonization. “We are uniquely positioned at PG&E, being a dual fuel overlapping utility, and so when our customers get our bill, they are experiencing the bill from the electric and the gas side.” She adds that the company is moving forward with building electrification and says that their priority is to “do so in a way where it’s affordable.”