Frequently Asked Questions
What is PaloAltoGreen Gas?
PaloAltoGreen Gas is a voluntary program that bundles carbon offsets with your natural gas purchase to balance the emissions associated with your natural gas use.
How does it work?
When you enroll, the City of Palo Alto Utilities purchases Green-e Climate certified carbon offsets equivalent to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created by your natural gas use associated with the combustion of natural gas at the point of consumption. Residential customers enroll at the 100% level, and commercial customers may enroll at 100% or in blocks.
What is a carbon offset?
A carbon offset is the reduction of one metric ton (mT) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is sold in units of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mT CO2e). Each therm of natural gas creates approximately 0.005306 mT—or about 12 pounds—of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. (Source: Unit Conversions, Emissions Factors, and Other Reference Data from epa.gov.) No matter how much you do to reduce your impact, some of your activities, such as natural gas use, will still emit greenhouse gases.
Carbon offsets let you support projects in communities across the country that reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond what you could achieve through individual action. Carbon offsets fund these projects and by purchasing carbon offsets through PaloAltoGreen Gas, you can diminish your own GHG emissions from your natural gas consumption. Offsets make environmental and economic sense: for emissions that are impossible to reduce, you can pay to reduce emissions elsewhere.
Green-e Climate certified carbon offsets represent the reduction of a specific quantity of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By purchasing these offsets, you alone have the right to all associated claims about the environmental benefits they embody. Carbon offsets are to be regarded as a real environmental commodity, not a donation or investment in a future emissions reduction project. The verified GHG emissions reductions you purchased are sourced from projects that have been validated and registered under high-quality project standards.
What offset projects are being supported with PaloAltoGreen Gas?
Your participation supports projects from dairy farms in communities across the United States that make the best possible use of animal waste. Through the use of anaerobic digesters, methane is captured as the manure breaks down and is then destroyed when it is burned as a fuel to produce electricity. Additionally these digesters can produce a variety of other products that help the farm reduce environmental impact. The fibrous material can be separated, dried and used as bedding while the liquid effluent can be used as fertilizer. Anaerobic digestion also aids local communities by helping to reduce water pollution and odor associated with animal husbandry.
Green Valley Dairy in Krakow, Wisconsin is an example of a project supported by PaloAltoGreen Gas. The dairy’s management team operates with sustainability in mind and it’s no wonder that it won the 2013 Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The dairy:
- Displaces traditional fossil fuel based grid power
- Reduces non-carbon local air pollutants such as non-methane VOCs
- Separates biosolids to use as animal bedding, also replacing the need to ship in sand regularly
- Digester outputs organic, largely pathogen-free nutrients for use as fertilizer
- Reduces agricultural odor in the surrounding community
- Mitigates energy costs allowing for the farm to maintain its workforce
The carbon offsets that you buy through PaloAltoGreen Gas are Green-e® Climate Certified. View more information on the PaloAltoGreen Gas Projects Page.
Why should I enroll?
PaloAltoGreen Gas is an opportunity for you to join your fellow Palo Alto residents and businesses to take a leadership role in our quest to make our city one of the most sustainable in the country. By enrolling in PaloAltoGreen Gas you are choosing to become carbon balanced for your home gas usage. By becoming carbon balanced you are helping to reduce GHG emissions that cause climate change. Together, with your fellow Palo Alto residents and businesses, you are making a difference.
How much does it cost?
Residents and businesses choosing to participate at a 100% pay just $0.12 per therm in addition to the cost of natural gas. Businesses can choose to participate in monthly increments of $12 for each 100 therm block.
How does billing work?
Charges will appear on the 2nd page of you monthly utility bill, and you are enrolled indefinitely until you choose to opt out. There is no minimum length for enrollment, or an opt-out fee. Residents and businesses who choose to participate at 100% pay a fixed rate from month to month of $0.12 per therm in addition to the cost of natural gas.
Commercial customers enrolled in PaloAltoGreen Gas for 100% of their natural gas use will see “PaloAltoGreen Gas Enrolled” on their bill.
Commercial customers who purchase blocks will see “PaloAltoGreen Gas Block” on their bill. Block customers can also refer to their Sales Memo to find information about quantity and one time purchases. Businesses who choose to participate by buying blocks pay a fixed rate from month to month of $12 for each 100 therm block in addition to the cost of natural gas.
How do I enroll?
Enrollment is easy, voluntary and you can cancel at any time.
- You can enroll online:
- By phone at (650) 329-2161.
- Or by the pre-paid postcard you may have received in the mail.
What if I have more questions?
You can contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (650) 329-2161. You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PaloAltoUtilities
What is Green-e® Climate?
Green-e Climate is an independent certification program for greenhouse gas emissions reductions sold in the voluntary market. It provides a way to identify carbon offsets that meet the program's high environmental and consumer protection standards. When you see the Green-e logo associated with GHG emissions reductions it means:
- 100% of the GHG emissions reductions sold and delivered come from projects validated and registered with one of Green-e Climate’s Endorsed Programs.
- The purchaser of a Green-e Climate Certified Offset is the sole “owner” of the GHG emissions reductions purchased from a specific project activity.
- The seller offering the Certified Offset agrees to abide by the Green-e Climate Code of Conduct governing its sales of Certified Offsets and disclosure to customers.
For more information on Green-e Climate certification requirements, visit www.green-e.org.
Visit the residential PaloAltoGreen Gas program website for more information.
Visit the commercial PaloAltoGreen Gas program website for more information.
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2015