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What powers an energy company?

Sempra Energy
2007 Annual Report
2007 Design: Addison/New York
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It’s not electricity, or natural gas, or wind or sun. It’s not nuclear, geothermal or biomass.

What powers an energy company is the most dynamic and truly inexhaustible resource on the planet: the ingenuity that resides in all of us.
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“I’m most proud of the care we’ve taken to ensure that marine life and native vegetation are totally and vigorously protected.”

Dimas Hernandez, Terminal Manager, Energia Costa Azul

There’s not much about the operations at the Energía Costa Azul receipt terminal that Dimas Hernandez does not touch in some way. As terminal manager, he has a broad range of operational responsibilities. And yet the careful protection of the native environment around the facility has always been one of his top priorities in the development of the project.

“Right from the beginning of this project, we were guided by an extreme sensitivity to the environment. Before breaking ground on construction, we worked with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History to prepare for the possibility that items of archeological significance might be uncovered. And indeed, during the course of our work, we discovered ancient bones, seashells and tools — all of which were carefully excavated by the Institute and taken to a location where they could be safely preserved and studied.

In conjunction with the Mexican environmental agency, SEMARNAT, we identified the native plants on more than 70 acres of land surrounding the construction site and mapped their exact locations. These plants included the Ferocactus viridescens, a species under special conservation status in Costa Azul, and the Agave shawii, which is found only along the Pacific coast of Baja California.

We carefully transplanted each and every plant and its surrounding ecosystem — 5,000 in all — to a special nursery created to simulate the exact environment they lived in. During construction, we’ve not only protected these plants, but also propagated the species. When the LNG terminal is completed, we will re-plant the native vegetation in the exact location it was taken from and identify special conservation zones to protect the continued growth of its habitats. Not only that, we have implemented educational programs in local schools to teach children the importance of appreciating and preserving these native plants.

We also were extremely diligent in our approach to minimizing the impact of the project on marine life — both plants and animals. The action we took to protect affected sea life is probably the best example of this, and one of the most important achievements in the entire program. Before construction started, we moved about 700,000 sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sea snails out of the construction area to adjacent sea banks, where they are continuing to live and reproduce. We also created a program to teach the local fishing community how to harvest the sea urchins in a more responsible manner that protects and propagates the species over time.

The Energía Costa Azul terminal represents a long-term commitment to active environmental stewardship. We have implemented a comprehensive environmental protection program that encompasses the local earth and marine ecosystems. Additionally, as part of normal facility operations, we continually remind our employees of the important role we play in protecting the environment.

We take our environmental stewardship very seriously. Yes, we are bringing a new, clean source of critically needed energy to the region. But more importantly, we are doing it in a responsible way that will preserve the local habitat for my grandchildren and their children, well into the future.”
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“No single energy source will be the key to delivering power. The trick is to find just the right balance of all of them.”

Rob Anderson, Director of Resource Planning, SDG&E

As one of the key people charged with developing San Diego’s long-term energy plan, Robb Anderson sees his job as finding ways to fit together the pieces of a puzzle: integrating the resources of SDG&E with the state of California’s energy policies. The goal is to provide the company’s utility customers with safe and reliable energy at reasonable costs.

“The fact is, as Southern California continues to grow, energy demand here — and throughout the United States — is also growing. That’s why, as the organization responsible for long-term energy planning for San Diego, we must look ahead and determine how to meet future demand and keep the lights on.

After the unsuccessful attempt at deregulation earlier this decade, California returned SDG&E and the state’s other electric utilities to their traditional role of planning for their customers’ energy needs. The utilities also have been directed to reduce greenhouse gases and increase the use of renewable energy. At SDG&E, our plan for meeting our customers’ needs and the state’s goals consists of five main elements: energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy, and new electric generation and transmission.

Our energy efficiency and demand-response programs help customers conserve energy. And, thanks to technology, in the near future we will be able to offer customers new tools such as our smart meter program. Smart meters provide a secure two-way communications channel with our customers that will provide those customers with near-real-time energy use information. These initiatives not only help reduce greenhouse gases, but also help customers manage their costs and save energy, while at the same time lessening the potential for power interruptions.

As California has mandated that utilities supply 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010, we are moving aggressively to meet this goal. We are contracting for wind and biomass power from existing and planned projects in San Diego County, as well as geothermal, solar and wind energy being developed to the east. Finally, we rely on power-purchase agreements and our own generating plants — such as the Palomar Energy Center, which came online in 2006 — to produce reliable electricity through the use of clean-burning natural gas.

The variety of locations of our balanced mix of energy sources calls for a network of transmission lines to transport the power to customers, often from facilities hundreds of miles away. Our proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line would add a second major electric ‘superhighway’ to our region and offer a new, reliable pathway for renewable energy being produced east of San Diego.

In addition to gaining access to renewable-energy sources, SDG&E’s transmission network is built around responding to demand growth. Our goal always is to have adequate capacity to move the power to wherever our customers are. To this end, we have been actively upgrading our system, with projects such as the recently completed Otay-Metro Powerloop, which provides dependable transmission of power in and around the San Diego area.

We have to plan for tomorrow. Figuring out how to fit all the pieces of the plan together is the real challenge. But it’s also the most satisfying part of my job.”