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June 07, 2021

Protecting the Environment and Advancing the Circular Economy

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This article also appears in our 13th annual Corporate Sustainability Report.

Being an environmental steward goes beyond reducing carbon emissions. Our environmental policy describes our commitment to abide by applicable laws, regulations and permit requirements, and our work to reduce our impacts.

Sempra Energy’s environmental policies and procedures are designed to manage and reduce environmental impacts and advance the circular economy. These procedures include water reuse, recycling and waste minimization, greenhouse gas (GHG) and other air emissions reduction programs and air quality improvements.

Managing and Reducing Our Waste

Across our operating companies we are working to find new ways to reduce waste, reuse materials and safely extend the life of equipment. We look to find new vendors to increase recycling rates and identify new products that can be recycled.

There are several examples of our efforts to advance the circular economy, including waste reduction goals and targets, across the Sempra Energy family of companies. SDG&E aims to divert 100% of green waste, including green waste related to vegetation management, by 2030. It also reduces food waste through composting the pre-consumer food waste from on-site dining facilities and donating unused food to Feeding San Diego. Learn more in SDG&E’s 2020 sustainability strategy, Building a Better Future.

In Mexico, Ecogas, IEnova’s natural gas distribution regulated utility, achieved their goal to reduce waste generated per employee compared to a 2019 baseline.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

In 2020, Sempra Energy and its operating companies:

managing and reducing our waste

* Non-hazardous waste generated does not currently account for green waste from SDG&E’s vegetation management operations.

Reducing Emissions and Leaks

Throughout our operating companies we are upgrading our infrastructure and processes, and collaborating with suppliers, customers and peers to work to effectively measure, monitor and reduce emissions.

Our California utilities have been working to upgrade infrastructure and processes to reduce methane emissions for decades. According to California-based emission factors used for Senate Bill 1371 “Natural Gas Leakage Abatement” reporting in 2020, the emission rates for transmission and distribution systems ranged from 0.05 to 0.25% for SoCalGas and 0.04 to 0.27% for SDG&E; an average between the two systems of ~0.15%.

Our California utilities achieve these results in a variety of ways:

  • They are among the leaders in the industry and are using the latest advanced monitoring technologies to conduct leakage surveys and monitor storage operations. These include drones, infrared fence-line monitoring, around-the-clock pressure monitoring of all wells in a 24-hour operations center, four-times-a-day patrols to examine every well, fiber optic cable and point sensors.
  • First in the nation to aerially map methane emissions across their gas network to identify opportunities to reduce emissions.
  • Modernizing equipment in metering and regulating facilities to utilize zero or lower emitting devices than previously available.
  • Eliminated cast iron pipe from the system two decades ago and is prioritizing the replacement of pipe that does not meet current standards for the prevention of corrosion.
  • Reducing natural gas vented during planned transmission pipeline maintenance.

Energy efficiency programs also play a critical role in reducing emissions. Energy efficiency programs include:

  • Time-of-use rates for customers;
  • Peak-demand campaigns such as “reduce your use” and “dial it down”; and
  • In-home efficiency programs that provide customers with more efficient appliances, weather stripping and other upgrades at no cost.

In 2020, customer energy efficiency at our California utilities saved approximately 333 gigawatt-hours* of electricity and approximately 41.2 million therms* of natural gas.

At Sempra Energy, protecting the environment and advancing a circular economy are key to our efforts to help shape a lower-carbon future while driving sustainable value for our stakeholders.

*Preliminary data