CleanPowerSF supporters demand aggressive launch schedule

When it comes to the re­energized effort to make San Francisco's renewable energy program a reality to compete with PG & E, supporters emphasized on Friday the importance of approving proposed power rates as soon as possible and a launch plan by September.

Just four days after Mayor Ed Lee surprisingly announced his support of CleanPowerSF, the way to make the program a reality was discussed at a Friday joint meeting between the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Local Agency Formation Commission, on which sit several members of the Board of Supervisors.

A bit of concern for some supporters is that the mayor asked for a plan to launch the program one month after his re­election this November, which could alleviate some political pressure to carry through on his announced support. Also, PG & E is moving toward launching a “green tariff” renewable energy program which could pose new challenges for CleanPowerSF.

When pushed for details on when the program could become a reality, Harlan Kelly, head of the SFPUC, said, “I want it to be successful. I just don't want to go out there as fast as possible. We want to make sure it's a quality launch.” Kelly said he wanted to wait to set proposed power rates after PG & E sets those for its proposed “green tariff” program, which is expected sometime this summer.

But CleanPowerSF supporter Eric Brooks said the agency didn't need to wait. “We can set the rate and we can plan our program starting now and in nine months we can have that plan done in September,” Brooks said.

The agency said that once the commission approves the maximum rates for the program it would take 241 days to actually launch the program.

Addressing concerns of the time­line SFPUC commissioner Francesca Vietor requested Kelly present a specific schedule for the program launch for the commission meeting's next month, which he agreed to do.

Supporters are wary of the mayor's support for obvious reasons. In the past, politicians have signaled strong support of the effort only to watch the more than decade­old effort suffer significant setbacks, most recently in 2013 when the mayor blasted the program. Late last year, a consultant addressed the mayor's criticism, showing it could create more than 9,000 construction jobs and the SFPUC could purchase the renewable energy on its own without contracting with a power company.

Customers would be enrolled in a light­green option, on an opt­out basis as required by state law, with rates expected to be at or lower than PG&E's. They would have a choice to opt into paying more for a 100 percent renewable­energy product, a model being used by Marin Clean Energy, California's first community­choice aggregation.

Bay Area NewsCleanPowerSFHarlan KellyMarin County

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