Co-authored by John Avalos, Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
By spring, San Francisco will launch CleanPowerSF, a 100 percent renewable energy alternative to PG&E power. CleanPowerSF is the single biggest step we collectively can take to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It creates a path toward energy independence by giving San Franciscans the ability to invest in and build out our own renewable resources, which will create living-wage jobs.
Other California municipalities are already seeing the benefits of this model. Marin County has operated a thriving community-choice aggregation program for the past two years and Sonoma County is pressing forward with its own initiative.
Since last fall when the city approved CleanPowerSF, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has lowered the program's billing rates, while identifying opportunities to create jobs and invest in local energy resources.
CleanPowerSF's promise of clean, renewable energy will translate into local jobs. The new proposed rates will generate enough revenue to hire San Franciscans to build local, renewable energy projects. According to SFPUC, CleanPowerSF will directly create up to 90 jobs, as well as induce up to an additional 500 jobs in the first five years of the program through these energy projects. Unfortunately, a union representing PG&E's electrical workers has engaged in an aggressive misinformation campaign aimed at scaring people away from making the choice to switch to 100 percent clean energy.
The SFPUC has conducted three public surveys that show there is more than enough demand in San Francisco to support the initial launch of CleanPowerSF. With the new proposed rates, the SFPUC can offer customers pricing that is competitive with PG&E's green plan, increase the budget to build local clean energy projects and provide discounts for low-income customers. Once the rates are set, the SFPUC will undertake a citywide public education effort to ensure potential customers are fully informed about CleanPowerSF, the environmental and economic benefits it brings to San Francisco and its associated costs.
San Francisco has ambitious clean energy goals that address climate change head-on; CleanPowerSF is San Francisco's best opportunity to create a new, skilled workforce in the green energy sector, secure San Francisco's energy independence for the future and combat global climate change. Residents also deserve a choice in which kind of energy they receive, and what type of resources their ratepayer dollars are invested in. Do we want to control our own energy future? Or do we stick with the energy monopoly?
The answer is easy; let San Franciscans make the choice.
Francesca Vietor's comments do not necessarily reflect the official position of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. John Avalos is chair of the Local Agency Formation Commission and represents District 11 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.