Battling clean energy measures on upcoming SF ballot

One clean energy measure on San Francisco’s upcoming ballot is without support after a feud between the PG&E union that wrote it and the Board of Supervisors was resolved with the introduction of another proposition.

Proposition G and Proposition H center around the mix of energy used by The City’s community choice aggregation program called CleanPowerSF. The city program is more than a decade in the making, close to being implemented and is set to be in competition with PG&E’s own forthcoming clean energy program.

Prop. G was proposed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, but the union no longer supports it and instead rallies behind Prop. H.

Under Prop. G, CleanPowerSF would have to use a stricter definition of clean energy than the rest of the state when describing green and renewable energy. It would also be forced to notify residents through an additional mailer of the contents of its energy mix.

“There has been a consistent lack of disclosure around the sources of energy for these community choice aggregation agencies that have been created,” in Marin and Sonoma, said union representative Hunter Stern. “They do not tell their customers in advance or even after they’ve been operating where their energy is coming from.”

But according to Supervisor London Breed, Prop. G would kill The City’s green energy program.

“It was clearly an attack on CleanPowerSF,” she said.

“I’m hoping that people will pay attention to this and understand these are not two ballot measures to help clean power, one is meant to destroy it and one is meant to help it,” said Breed.

Prop. H, the compromise between the Board of Supervisors and electrical workers union, would require the CleanPowerSF program to limit its use of unbundled Renewable Energy Certificates in accordance with state standards for other programs.

Those standards do not normally apply to community choice aggregation programs like CleanPowerSF. “It’s the first time … public agencies will limit their use of unbundled RECs,” said Stern.

The RECs, which represent clean energy generated and used in other locations, stand in place of a program’s actual green or renewable energy use. They are considered clean power.

Prop. H also includes disclosure language that, if passed Nov. 3, would require The City to provide consumers with more information about its energy mix and energy sources, including nuclear.

Whether or not Prop. G passes, Prop H. has a built-in clause that says it prevails over Prop. G.

Still, Breed said there’s still a chance that Prop. G passes and Prop. H doesn’t, even with the support that the latter measure has.

“I’m always worried about the outcome because part of a decision, when something is going to the ballot you can’t take anything for granted,” she said.

To compromise with the union, the Board of Supervisors told the union that The City’s clean power program was not about taking away jobs in California by using unbundled RECs, but using clean energy.

“Our biggest interest was building these projects in California, and building them union,” said Stern.

Stern said the union was concerned with keeping jobs available in the city and state, but also with limiting the use of unbundled RECs. The certificates, when not bundled with the energy actually generated, do not increase use of clean energy or result in more energy development projects, Stern said.

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