SFPUC Delivers Report Outlining Options for Transition to Public Power to Stabilize Costs, Ensure Reliability and Expand Use of Renewable Energy

 
Preliminary Report Requested by Mayor Breed following PG&E Bankruptcy Announcement Details Next Steps for Public Power Study

San Francisco, CA— The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) today delivered its preliminary study of public power options that the City will consider in light of Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) filing for bankruptcy protection. SFPUC staff prepared the report at the request of Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors. It represents the first step toward exploring the potential acquisition of PG&E assets for public use.

“We already deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity to hundreds of thousands of San Francisco customers every day,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “As we continue to grow our services, we have a unique opportunity to seriously look at a rapid expansion of our public power programs that could provide major advantages for our customers and our community—from stabilizing costs and ensuring reliability to expanding the city’s reliance on renewable energy. There is more work to be done, but our initial analysis shows us we should continue to pursue this opportunity.”

The full report can be found here.

The SFPUC owns and operates transmission and distribution assets within and outside of San Francisco but relies on PG&E for delivery to most of its customers in San Francisco for both Hetch Hetchy Power and CleanPowerSF. The report identifies and describes three options the City can consider that would make it easier to serve more San Francisco customers with clean, safe, reliable and affordable power:

• Limited Independence.
• Targeted Investment for More Independence.
• Acquire PG&E Assets for Full Independence.

While any sort of acquisition of PG&E property would be a lengthy process, the preliminary report shows that public ownership of San Francisco’s electric grid has the potential for significant long-term benefits relative to investment costs and risks. Initial research shows total energy independence would make meeting the City’s goal of being 100 percent carbon neutral by 2030 much more likely. It would also lead to more stable rates and more transparency for customers. Additionally, PG&E’s existing workforce would be welcomed into SFPUC’s community-owned public service culture, where safety and efficiency are priorities.

The next phase of the analysis will go deeper. The City will be examining the impact of acquiring PG&E distribution assets on workforce, environmental justice, affordability, safety and reliability, neighborhood revitalization and community engagement. The agency’s analysis also includes the impact San Francisco’s departure from the larger PG&E system will have on other ratepayers across California.

SFPUC now meeting majority of City’s energy demand

The SFPUC recently completed the largest and last major enrollment of CleanPowerSF, the City’s local renewable energy program. More than 360,000 businesses and residents are now enrolled in CleanPowerSF, which receives energy from wind and solar sources. CleanPowerSF delivers cleaner energy to customers at prices that are below similar services offered by PG&E.

For more than 100 years, the City has been receiving 100 percent greenhouse gas-free hydroelectricity from the Hetch Hetchy Regional Power System. That service, which is also managed by the SFPUC, already powers City Hall, San Francisco International Airport, public libraries, schools and Muni vehicles, among other facilities. Between CleanPowerSF and Hetch Hetchy power, the SFPUC meets nearly 80 percent of the electricity demand in San Francisco.

The dual clean power programs managed by the SFPUC have played a key role in helping the City reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent below 1990 levels—a reduction that has occurred at the same at San Francisco’s population has increased by 22 percent and the economy has grown by 166 percent.

These public power programs have earned the support and confidence of San Francisco residents too. According to a recent poll, nearly 70 percent of respondents were in favor of the SFPUC delivering public power to the City, citing more affordable rates, increased accountability, cleaner energy and better service as reasons for their support.

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 http://www.sfwater.org.

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