"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation

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Bakersfield Comes Together to Reduce Drought’s Devastating Effects

BAKERSFIELD — Every drop of water counts as the state faces one of the most severe droughts in modern history.

Even before the governor declared a state of emergency last year, PG&E has been working vigorously to conserve water in its electric and gas operations and facilities, engage employees to reduce water usage and help customers find ways to conserve water and save energy at home and at work.

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A televised roundtable discussion in Bakersfield focused on ways PG&E and the community are working together to conserve water. (Photo by Katie Allen.)

This week, PG&E Kern Division senior manager Denise Newton joined Congressman David Valadao and Alan Christensen of the Kern County Water Resources for KBAK-TV’s Drought Crisis Roundtable. The town hall format event aired live on the local CBS affiliate and was an opportunity for PG&E to showcase its commitment to supporting the communities it serves.

“Here in Kern County, we have more than 500 employees who live and work and call this home, so we are really concerned about the drought and helping our customers,” Newton said. “Our biggest focus is to educate our community on energy efficiency and ways customers can save energy and water.”

During the panel discussion, the moderator asked Newton about PG&E as a senior water right holder. PG&E has 162 senior water rights which are pre-1914 due to its large hydroelectric system. Newton explained that more than 98 percent of the water PG&E diverts is non-consumptive, meaning after PG&E uses it to turn turbines creating clean, lower cost energy, the water is returned to the river for use downstream.

Valadao, a dairy farmer from the Central Valley, understands the need to keep water flowing to Kern County. He praised PG&E’s efforts to manage its reservoirs to ensure an adequate supply of peaking power will be available to meet potential emergencies and summer heat storms.

“PG&E’s water infrastructure benefits a lot of us because we get our electricity from PG&E,” he said. “They are a quarter of the state’s energy, it also provides one of the most affordable sources of energy on the hydro side and for us as farmers, the agricultural world, water being held back so we can use it later on during the summer when peak hours are needed for electricity and the valley, it benefits us all.”

Newton also offered tips for customers to reduce water usage and save energy during the panel discussion. Among the suggestions: purchasing more efficient washing machines, installing low-flow faucets and shower heads, and replacing old toilets with new ones.

These community outreach efforts are paying off. Since 2010, the Kern Energy Watch program, funded through PG&E, has assisted municipalities and more than 1,200 small and medium sized businesses in becoming more energy efficient and saving more than $4 million a year in reduced electrical costs.

In addition to participating in the event, PG&E was a proud sponsor alongside the California Water Service Company (Cal Water). Other panelists included Chad Hathaway, Owner of Hathaway LLC (Oil Company), Chief Doug Greener with the Bakersfield Fire Department, and Susan Cordone with Cal Water. All panelists took an in-depth look at the drought and answered questions from viewers.

PG&E, Cal Water, a representative from Congress, county of Kern, Bakersfield City Fire Department, and the oil industry all came together to help make a difference.

For more information, visit PG&E’s Drought Resources page.

Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.