SCE | Fighting Climate Change Through Higher Education

SCE, University of California and California State University partner on an innovative pilot to reduce greenhouse gases.
May 22, 2019 8:00 AM ET

The University of California, California State University and Southern California Edison have a common goal: lead the fight against climate change. That’s why they are collaborating on a Clean Energy Optimization Pilot.

The pilot is a first-of-its-kind, performance-based, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction program. Success is measured on GHG emissions avoided, rather than the standard method of measuring reduced energy use. This approach rewards the universities for focusing on actions that help the environment the most.

“In addition to a commitment to integrate sustainability into the academic curriculum, CSU has a long-standing history of pursuing sustainable practices in all areas of the university,” said Aaron Klemm, CSU’s chief of energy and sustainability. “This partnership will open up new pathways for our university to act on the climate emergency.” 

The collective effort is designed to reduce GHG emissions while lowering costs. It represents a major step in creating repeatable solutions to counter climate change. Reducing emissions from the use of fossil fuels is critical to addressing and mitigating climate impacts.

California is already feeling the adverse effects of climate change. If the world continues to warm at this rate, Californians can expect extreme droughts, wildfires, rain and flooding to become more common.

To meet California’s 2030 GHG targets, it is important that we partner with our customers to provide programs that will work for their needs,” said Jill Anderson, SCE’s vice president of Customer Programs and Services. “By working closely with our UC and CSU partners, we can address climate change and we can show our future leaders — the students — how actions to reduce GHG emissions can help us build a clean energy future.”

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the Clean Energy Optimization Pilot today. The four-year, $20-million pilot gives financial incentives to UC and CSU to identify and apply sustainable actions to reduce GHG emissions. Compensation is based on actual metered results and is funded through SCE’s GHG cap-and-trade allowance revenue.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach for every campus, the universities will be given a framework of actions they can take to meet specific goals. This includes energy and cogeneration efficiency measures and the use of on-site renewable energy resources, clean transportation and energy storage.

“This streamlined incentive framework will accelerate on-campus innovations to make UC’s operations carbon-neutral by 2025, supporting California’s efforts to reach our aggressive GHG reduction goals,” said David Phillips, UC’s vice president for energy and sustainability.

Seven diverse and widespread campus locations were strategically selected to participate in the pilot, including: UC Davis Veterinary Lab, UC Irvine Medical Center, UC Irvine, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, UC Santa Barbara, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and California State University, Dominguez Hills.

This approach will produce a variety of solutions that can be studied to understand effectiveness for the potential scale-up of the program in the future.