News Release

Ground-breaking Collaboration Empowers San Diegans to Lead the Clean Energy Evolution

San Diego, CA, January 31, 2011 -- The San Diego region is poised to become an example of how cooperation and innovation can bring the promise of more efficient, reliable and sustainable energy to everyday living.  Mayor Jerry Sanders joined clean energy leaders today to announce Smart City San Diego, a collaborative combining the resources of a broad mix of organizations to develop and implement local initiatives that will improve the San Diego region’s energy independence, empower consumers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and drive economic growth. 

Smart City San Diego is a bold, new collaborative among the City of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego.  Working together, these leaders from government, business, education and non-profit will maximize synergies to drive existing energy programs forward, identify new opportunities, embrace additional collaborators, and move the San Diego region beyond today’s boundaries of sustainability. (Read the story in This Week @UCSD.)

With the San Diego region currently preparing for one of the largest initial deployments of electric vehicles in the country, the first priority for Smart City San Diego is to expand current projects to implement a comprehensive electric vehicle infrastructure,” said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. “This is the first of many initiatives that our partners throughout the region will undertake to make San Diego the foremost resource-conscious community in the United States.”


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Solar canopies atop UC San Diego’s Hopkins Garage parking structure. UC San Diego renewable energy infrastructure includes 1.2 MW of solar photovoltaics that will be augmented at the end of 2011 with a 2.8 MW fuel cell that will utilize renewable methane that is currently flared at the City’s wastewater treatment plant.

Electric vehicles offer tremendous benefits to consumers and the city while posing significant challenges.  On the plus side, electric vehicles could reduce U.S. oil importation by 52 percent, and electricity costs per mile are expected to be approximately one-quarter to one-third the cost of gasoline per mile.  However, grid reliability, consumer impact, public charging and alternative fuel options are obstacles to conquer to ensure safe, efficient integration.

To prepare the city and address the wide range of challenges, Smart City San Diego has created a comprehensive plan, including five key electric vehicle initiatives:

  1. Utilize smart technology to enable rapid electric vehicle growth while ensuring safe, reliable and efficient power delivery for consumers.  UC San Diego, SDG&E and GE will demonstrate smart technologies to identify when and where charging will occur, as well as work with electric vehicle owners to better manage charging loads. 
  2. Streamline home and public charging deployment processes.  SDG&E and the City of San Diego will work toward developing an efficient electric vehicle permitting process to ensure easy and rapid deployment of electric vehicle chargers for home and public-access locations.
  3. Research and demonstrate systems to power electric vehicles through clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar.  UC San Diego, GE and SDG&E will test the technical and economic feasibility of achieving zero tailpipe emissions, leveraging UC San Diego's extensive solar and fuel cell renewable energy generation infrastructure.   CleanTECH San Diego will serve as connective tissue between anticipated technology needs in the electric vehicle sector and the San Diego region’s innovators.
  4. Deliver economic growth for San Diego.  CleanTECH San Diego and the City of San Diego will help quantify the economic impacts of the electric vehicle initiatives, including cluster growth, incremental job growth and training needs, to ensure the city continues to prosper and benefit from this new industry.
  5. Study consumer behavior to better understand their decisions and identify additional electric vehicle initiatives.  The collaborators plan to enlist a consumer focus group comprised of 50 UC San Diego students, faculty, and staff who will be offered commercial leases on electric vehicles, charging their vehicles through UC San Diego’s planned electric vehicle infrastructure.

“Increasingly, competitiveness will be determined by our ability to grow in a prosperous yet sustainable manner,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president, Digital Energy, GE Energy Services. “GE is helping San Diego and cities around the world strike a balance between these seemingly contradictory goals.  Through technology innovation, like two-way communications between electric vehicle chargers and the local utility, we can deliver both clean and reliable solutions to meet our 21st century energy needs.”

“UC San Diego is committed to working with our partners to develop and demonstrate innovations that will enable carbon-free transportation,” said Marye Anne Fox, chancellor of UC San Diego.  “Through our collaboration, and the university's significant investment in renewable energy generation and storage, smart grid communication infrastructure and the expertise of our faculty and staff, we are poised to help with the successful adoption of electric vehicles in San Diego and eventually mainstream America.”

In addition to delivering a holistic electric vehicle infrastructure, Smart City San Diego has identified a host of efficiency and renewable energy objectives to drive the clean energy evolution, including:

  • Supporting California goals for localized electricity generation and 33 percent renewable energy by 2020
  • Empowering consumers with real-time knowledge and intuitive technology to manage their energy usage  
  • Minimizing the need for additional infrastructure by optimizing and automating the electric grid with two-way communications and monitoring technologies
  • Demonstrating the value and impact of innovation to the San Diego region and the community through public smart grid projects and displays 

“We are working together with our customers and the community to create an innovative and sustainable energy future with the utility as the platform for reliability and customer information,” said Jessie Knight Jr., chairman and CEO of SDG&E.  “By doing this we provide our customers with the ability to use new technologies that will help them save energy, while providing environmental benefits for all.”

 “We are proud to participate in this impressive collaboration of business, education and non-profit organizations,” said Jim Waring, chairman of CleanTECH San Diego. “ Working together, this effort will stimulate innovation and advance the adoption of clean technologies and sustainable industry practices for the economic, environmental and social benefit of the greater San Diego region.”

About San Diego Electric & Gas

SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 845,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help our customers save energy and money every day.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

About UC San Diego

 UC San Diego is a nationally recognized Living Laboratory for sustainability solutions.  In 2010, UC San Diego received  $33 million  in grants, incentives and industry contributions for innovative research and deployments of renewable energy generation, clean  transportation, and microgrid technologies.  The 1200 acre campus currently self-generates 85% of its electricity to serve a population of 45,000.  In 2010, UC San Diego received the inaugural Annual Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence from the American College & University Presidents, in recognition of the campus' successful progress towards meeting its sustainability goals. For more details on UC San Diego's sustainability efforts, visit:

About CleanTECH San Diego

CleanTECH San Diego is a non-profit membership organization formed to accelerate San Diego as a world leader in the clean technology economy.  It is a catalyst that serves as the hub for a diverse group of stakeholders to advance a common agenda.  CleanTECH San Diego advocates for new sources of investment capital, workforce development, international trade, federal and state research funding, targeted regulation, and sustainable land-use planning and development.

About GE

GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that's built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.  GE serves the energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With 85,000 global employees and 2009 revenues of $37 billion, GE Energy is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies. The businesses that comprise GE Energy-GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas-work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.  For more information, visit the company's website at GE is imagination at work.

Media Contacts

Denine Hagen
Jacobs School of Engineering

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering

Andrea Siedsma
Jacobs School of Engineering