San Francisco’s ambitious public power launch would take $19.5 million, according to a new report that pins down for the first time the program’s startup budget.
The City is negotiating with Shell Energy North America to run CleanPowerSF, a public power program to supply residents with a 100 percent green-energy alternative to PG&E.
The effort, which began more than seven years ago and has cost almost $3 million just for planning, has hit several snags. Most recently, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission postponed in July a vote on the contract term sheet amid concerns about the financial risk.
A vote on the term sheet is scheduled for Oct. 11. If ultimately approved by the Board of Supervisors, the program is expected to launch in mid-2012.
The start up costs include putting $15 million in an escrow account for a payout to Shell if the program is terminated before the contract expires in 4½ years. And $4 million would sit in a reserve account to “mitigate potential program risks,” according to an SFPUC report.
“The $19.5M ... is only collateral,” said Tyrone Jue, SFPUC spokesman. “We fully expect CleanPowerSF to be successful without the need to expend any of this money.”
Under the program, The City’s residential power customers would be enrolled in CleanPowerSF with the chance to opt out. About 75,000 of the 280,000 residential accounts are expected to remain with the new CleanPowerSF program.
CleanPowerSF will cost an average of $7 to $15 more than PG&E per month for most residential customers. Initially, rates were promised to “meet or beat” those of PG&E.
The SFPUC and the Local Agency Formation Commission have scheduled a joint meeting Oct. 11. Supervisor David Campos, who chairs LAFCO, said his “hope” is the term sheet will be approved then and sent to the Board of Supervisors for a vote.
CleanPowerSF is a community choice aggregation program allowed under a 2002 state law. Marin County was the first municipality to adopt a program, which also is run by Shell.
What is CleanPowerSF?
- It’s a community choice aggregation program allowed under state law where cities and counties can purchase their own electricity
- Residential PG&E customers are automatically signed up and must opt out to remain with PG&E
100%: Electricity from renewable sources under CleanPowerSF
16%: PG&E electricity from renewable sources
$7-$15: Extra cost from PG&E rates for most CleanPowerSF residential customers
Oct. 11: Date SFPUC expects to vote on term sheet