SFPUC and NextEra Energy Resources Partnership Contributes $170,000 in COVID-19 Relief Funding to Blythe, California

SFPUC Contact:
Will Reisman
June 16, 2020

 SFPUC and NextEra Energy Resources Partnership Contributes $170,000 in COVID-19 Relief Funding to Blythe, California

Grants Will Fund Programs like Food Banks, Homeless Services and Mental Health Support in Community that Provides Renewable Power for San Francisco

San Francisco, CA –The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has partnered with NextEra Energy Resources to provide $170,000 in grant funding for COVID-19 relief efforts in Blythe, California and its surrounding area in Riverside County.

The SFPUC’s local clean energy program CleanPowerSF contracted with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources to expand a solar array in the area that will supply renewable energy to nearly 380,000 CleanPowerSF customers in San Francisco.

“At the SFPUC, we work hard to be a good neighbor to the communities where we and our contractors serve, and this commitment extends well beyond the borders of San Francisco,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “We feel fortunate to be able to assist the City of Blythe during this extremely challenging time and bring relief to some very deserving organizations.”

The $170,000 in grant funds was provided to beneficiaries in May. Later this summer, an additional $100,000 is expected to be granted to a scholarship fund. The grants will be distributed among the City of Blythe, Lift to Rise, and the Riverside Latino Commission Counseling Center. Programs such as food banks, food pantries, cash relief, homeless services and counseling/therapy will be supported by the funding, and may be available to individuals who do not normally qualify for assistance.

“As our nation works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to assisting the most vulnerable in our communities,” said NextEra Energy Resources senior vice president of development Matt Handel. “I’m confident that, together with our partners at SFPUC, we can help our community survive and become even stronger from our current challenges. NextEra Energy Resources will continue to build strong partnerships and support the communities we serve.”

“The City of Blythe is much appreciative of the very generous donation NextEra Energy Resources has made to our local charities to help with food access and homelessness,” said Mallory Crecelius, the interim City Manager and City Clerk of the City of Blythe. “These funds will go a long way to help families in the City and the Palo Verde Valley during this unprecedented time. The City thanks NextEra Energy Resources for continuing to be an outstanding community partner.”

As part of their contract with the SFPUC, NextEra Energy Resources made a commitment to provide funding to community organizations in Blythe within five years of launching its expanded solar array in the region. However, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the grants will be administered immediately.

“We thank NextEra Energy Resources and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for their investment in our region,” said Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia. “In collaboration with local partners, these grants will support our Blythe community by bringing relief and resources to residents during this critical time. We applaud all those who have come together over the last few months to lend a helping hand.”

“Riverside County residents have been acutely impacted by our current public health and economic crisis. NextEra Energy Resources’ support of our Economic Protection Plan and Support Fund has provided critical immediate economic relief to hundreds of households navigating extreme financial precarity,” said Heather Viakona, CEO of Lift to Rise. “We’re incredibly grateful for NextEra Energy Resources’ leadership in supporting our collaborative effort and ongoing commitment to Riverside County communities.”

“The Latino Commission from the Coachella Valley is very grateful to have received a monetary donation during this pandemic,” said Bea Gonzales, Chair of the Latino Commission. “We are in the process of identifying families who do not qualify for stimulus or government aid. We will be able to support them with cash aid because of the donation. In addition, we are also working with partner organizations and community members, to identify the need for mental health and substance use services as well as the need for support with food insecurities. We are very grateful to NextEra Energy Resources for their commitment to the community of Blythe and the surrounding Coachella Valley.”

The SFPUC’s Social Impact Partnership Program invites private sector firm partners to give back to the communities in which they are performing work on behalf of the SFPUC. The SFPUC is the first public utility in the country to implement a social impact program that advances corporate social responsibility as a part of its competitive bidding process for professional services, alternative delivery and energy procurement contracts.

Other examples of the SFPUC’s Social Impact Partnership program include the Maisin Scholar Award, which provides financial support for local youth to pursue higher education, CityWorks, which offers paid internships for young adults in the City’s Southeast communities, and the Phoenix Fund, a small business assistance program for local companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CleanPowerSF launched in 2016 with a mission to provide San Francisco residents and businesses with clean, renewable electricity at competitive rates. Following the largest and last enrollment period in April of this year, CleanPowerSF now serves about 380,000 customer accounts in San Francisco.

Along with CleanPowerSF, the SFPUC operates the Hetch Hetchy Regional Power System, which provides 100 percent greenhouse gas free energy to public facilities, such as City Hall, San Francisco International Airport, Muni buses, schools and libraries. Collectively, the two systems meet approximately 80 percent of the electricity demand in San Francisco.

In addition to partnering with NextGen on COVID-19 relief efforts in Blythe, the SFPUC has also provided local support efforts during the pandemic. Last month, the agency launched an emergency community assistance program to help residential customers struggling to pay their water, sewer and Hetch Hetchy power bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency also suspended water and power shutoffs due to late payments, while postponing liens and collections, waiving late fees and providing rental payment deferments for tenants of SFPUC facilities.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfwater.org.