Energy Use

Why Is This Important?
California and San Mateo County are dependent on the burning of nonrenewable fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas for energy.  The burning of fossil fuels can negatively impact air quality and release significant quantities of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change.  California has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  Increased energy efficiency and an increase in non-greenhouse gas emitting energy sources are keys to achieving this goal.  An overreliance on fossil fuels can also make an economy vulnerable to price spikes in the oil or natural gas markets. 

What Is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one that is carbon neutral and energy is produced from clean, renewable sources and used efficiently.

How Are We Doing?
Energy consumption

  • In 2006, energy use from electricity and natural gas in San Mateo County totaled nearly 41 trillion British thermal units, a 3 percent increase from 2005 and a 12 percent increase from 1997.  Since 1997, electricity use has increased by 23 percent. Natural gas use has increased 4 percent.
  • In 2006, natural gas accounted for 55 percent of energy consumed in the county, roughly the same as in past years.

Data sources: California Energy Commission and Pacific Gas and Electric

  • In 2006, residential use accounted for 49 percent of energy consumption in the county.  Average annual household electricity use in the county was 5,841 kilowatt hours, a 1 percent increase from 2005.  Average annual household natural gas use was 528 therms, a 2 percent decrease from 2005.
  • Average household energy use was highest in Atherton, Woodside, Hillsborough, and Portola Valley.  Average household use was at least double the county average (and in some cases three times the average) for both natural gas and electricity in each of these communities.

Data source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Data source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Electricity generation
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) provides most of the electricity used by San Mateo County residents and businesses. 

  • In 2006, PG&E’s delivered electricity was generated primarily from natural gas (42 percent), nuclear power (23 percent), and large hydroelectric power (19 percent). 
  • Only 3 percent of PG&E’s delivered electricity came from coal-fired power plants.  By comparison, coal accounted for 16 percent of the electricity delivered to all California electricity customers.
  • In 2006, renewable energy sources, including biomass, geothermal, small hydroelectric, wind, and solar, accounted for 13 percent of PG&E’s delivered electricity, a slight increase from 2005 (12 percent).

In 2007, there were 246 new solar photovoltaic installations in the county totaling 1,236 kilowatts of new generation capacity.  At year end 2007, there was over 4,000 kilowatts of solar generation capacity in the county (981 individual installations).  More than half of this total was installed in either 2006 or 2007.

Data source: California Energy Commission


Data source: California Energy Commission

See appendix page 75, CLICK HERE. Researchers: Isabelle Gecils, Valerie Sims, and Joe Rois

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From the 2014 Indicators Report

12.3% of county adults lack health insurance

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‟In the long term, the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it's unenvironmental it is uneconomical. That is the rule of nature.”—Mollie Beattie