Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) will soon begin using renewable natural gas for the first time at the 25 utility-owned natural gas vehicle fueling stations across its service territory, as well as at six fueling stations in the San Diego area.
Last month, the utility received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a pilot program to purchase the renewable fuel and capture the additional environmental credits generated. Today, it published a Request for Offer (RFO), and expects to complete gas purchase agreements in the near future.
The latest generation of natural gas engines for heavy-duty vehicles can reduce smog-forming emissions by more than 90% compared to the cleanest heavy-duty diesel trucks. When these ultra-low emissions natural gas trucks are fueled with renewable natural gas, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by at least 80%.
Renewable natural gas (RNG) is produced from the methane generated in landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing and dairies and depending on its source, can be low-carbon or in some cases, even carbon-negative. It can be used to fuel trucks and buses, to generate electricity, to heat homes and businesses, and to cook.
Capturing the methane from these waste sources and using it for fuel has two benefits: It keeps methane, a greenhouse gas, from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change, and it reduces the use of traditionally-sourced natural gas.
Because renewable natural gas can be stored and delivered through the existing natural gas infrastructure, SoCalGas can help California reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the state’s renewable energy and air quality goals in a cost-effective way.
California provides incentive funding to help trucking fleets transition to renewable natural gas. Close to 70% of natural gas fleets in California are fueled with renewable natural gas.
As California policymakers have sought to expand the production and use of renewable energy, SoCalGas has been working to expand the production and use of renewable natural gas in California. The utility recently launched a video on renewable natural gas, and worked with waste management company CR&R Environmental to begin injecting renewable natural gas produced at CR&R's anaerobic digestion facility in Perris, Calif., into SoCalGas pipelines.
In June, SoCalGas joined two French utilities and a Canadian natural gas utility in a new collaboration to advance the research and development of renewable natural gas and technologies such as power-to-gas. SoCalGas also assists California fleets in obtaining state funds designated for the purchase of near-zero emissions heavy-duty natural gas trucks.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, servicing 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90% 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% of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.