PG&E donates a million USD and two CNG cars to UC Merced

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is often mentioned on AutoblogGreen for their work with plug-in cars and the work the company is doing in evolving the smart grid in California (see here and here for just two recent examples). Today, though, the news from PG&E revolves around cars powered by natural gas. At least it's still in California.

PG&E has donated $1 Million USD and two natural gas Honda Civics to the University of California Merced School of Engineering department. The utility has a five-year partnership with the school to "support its student recruitment and retention programs," as it's described in the press release after the jump. The Civics are destined for use by engineering students when they go off campus using natural gas provided by PG&E.

[Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company]

PG&E Donates $1 Million, 2 Natural Gas Cars to Support UC Merced Engineering Students

Multifaceted gift part of five-year partnership to support several programs boosting student recruitment and retention

MERCED, Calif., Nov. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric Company visited the campus of the University of California, Merced, today and left behind a few important things -- a sign on an engineering service learning laboratory, two natural-gas-powered cars and a million-dollar check -- to begin a legacy at the newest campus in the UC system. The far-reaching gift from PG&E is part of the utility's five-year partnership with UC Merced's School of Engineering and will support its student recruitment and retention programs.

"The world needs engineers who are prepared to make a difference. UC Merced is committed to educating those engineers, and the support of PG&E greatly enhances our ability to do so," said UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang, a former engineering dean from UC Santa Cruz. "The programs supported by PG&E's million-dollar gift especially help us bring aspiring engineers from diverse backgrounds into full participation in our engineering program."

PG&E Senior Vice President Nancy McFadden presented UC Merced with a $1 million check and unveiled a new sign naming the PG&E Engineering Service Learning Laboratory. "PG&E is proud to partner with UC Merced to support and inspire future engineers who will lead advancements in energy efficiency, renewable power, and technology to promote a healthy environment," said McFadden. "This donation is part of our continued commitment to support environmental leadership and the economic vitality of the Central Valley communities we are honored to serve."

PG&E's $1 million donation will be provided to UC Merced's School of Engineering over the course of the five-year partnership. The gift will serve to enhance student recruitment and retention by expanding the school's Engineering Service Learning Laboratory, which provides a physical home base for students working on cooperative engineering projects with community non-profit groups, such as A Woman's Place Merced, the Merced County Office of Education and the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. Service learning is a required aspect of UC Merced's engineering curriculum and helps retain students by facilitating hands-on learning early in the engineering education process.

PG&E also presented the university with two blue-flamed, custom-wrapped Honda Civics powered by natural gas. The vehicles will be incorporated into the university's fleet and will be used by engineering students traveling to off-campus service learning projects and professional conferences. PG&E will provide a natural gas pump on campus to fuel the vehicles. Natural gas is one of the cleanest burning alternative transportation fuels available today, reducing greenhouse gas emissions an average of 25 percent over traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles.

UC Merced students joined the guests assembled for the announcement ceremony and spoke afterward at a celebratory luncheon. They all mentioned how PG&E's gift will make a difference in their engineering studies -- supporting student organizations and projects as well as providing individual financial support for outstanding students.

"It is a magnificent statement to our students that a company with the stature of PG&E cares so deeply about their success as future engineering leaders of tomorrow," said Dean Jeff Wright of the School of Engineering. "This gift will enable us to expand our support of their professional education and to provide them hands-on learning experiences that would otherwise not be possible."

PG&E has a long history of making charitable grants tailored to the wide variety of needs of the communities it serves. The company's broader program of support to communities includes cash grants, in-kind contributions, and volunteers for community-based nonprofit organizations, and for schools and other governmental programs throughout northern and central California. This year, PG&E is increasing its support to charitable nonprofit organizations by 25 percent to $18.3 million -- the largest charitable commitment in the company's history. All charitable contributions are entirely funded by the company's shareholders and the level of charitable giving does not affect gas and electric rates.

UC Merced opened Sept. 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the University of California system and the first American research university of the 21st century. The campus significantly expands access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a special mission to increase college-going rates among students in the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced research and as a stimulus to economic growth and diversification throughout the region. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the university is expected to grow rapidly, topping out at approximately 25,000 students within 30 years.

For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company, please visit the

company's web site at

For more information about UC Merced, please visit

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