San Diego is stepping up their game with renewable energy. This past August, San Diego Gas & Electric announced that it will meet California’s 33 percent renewable energy goal six years ahead of time. By the end of this year, SDG&E customers can expect one-third of their electricity to come from large scale renewable projects.

California is ordering electricity retailers to provide 33 percent renewable power by 2020. This standard has sparked solar and wind projects in Southern California’s deserts. Out of California’s investor-owned utility companies, SDG&E will most likely be the first to reach the green energy mark.

“We will be, by the end of this year, at 33 percent renewable,” said Jim Avery, senior vice president for power supply at SDG&E. “That’s six years ahead of the state’s goal.”

Avery said SDG&E is in full force on its renewable energy goals by having the right infrastructure for wind and sun resources and also developing innovations in the Imperial Valley Desert, east of San Diego.

The San Diego Zoo is a proud partner of SDG&E and is supporting sustainable energy. Since San Diego has one of the nation’s highest numbers of electric vehicle drivers, the zoo decided to launch a project to support interest in the technology. There are five solar-to-electric vehicle (EV) charging stations located at the zoo. These stations use the sun’s energy to charge plug-in EVs, store solar power for future use, and provide renewable energy to the surrounding community.

San Diego solar charging stations

There has been a steady increase in electricity consumed since the launch of the Solar-to-EV project in 2012. There has been a 72 percent increase in cars using the station as well as an average of 69 charges per month to 119 charges per month.

“San Diego Zoo Global is proud to partner with CleanTECH San Diego and SDG&E to offer our customers the ability to charge their electric vehicles at the Zoo,” said Debra Erickson, San Diego Zoo Global director of communications. “The solar panels provided through this partnership are also an important educational tool and provide our guests with information on sustainable energy generation and how they can harness the sun to reduce their carbon footprint.”

The numbers show for the Solar-to-EV project. It produces enough energy to power 59 homes and the clean energy produced is equivalent to removing 189,216 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. This system not only encourages EV drivers to visit the zoo, but also serves as a cornerstone for the zoo’s sustainability efforts.

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