San Francisco explores joining Marin County’s clean energy program

San Francisco took a step forward Tuesday toward joining a clean energy program practiced by Marin County after The City’s own effort was stymied nine months ago.

The 10-year, multimillion-dollar planning effort to create a community choice aggregation program known as CleanPowerSF was on the verge of becoming a reality in August. But the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission voted to reject program energy rates, blocking its launch and jeopardizing the years of effort altogether.Supervisor John Avalos and others have refused to concede, however, calling the CleanPowerSF proposal the only opportunity The City has to actually reduce carbon emissions to meet climate goals established in 2008.

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On Tuesday, Avalos introduced legislation that if approved, would request Marin Clean Energy, the community energy aggregation program of Marin County, to analyze the details of serving San Francisco energy customers, who currently receive their power from utility monopoly PG&E.

Once the analysis is complete, the legislation urges the SFPUC to choose to move forward with CleanPowerSF or elect to join Marin’s program. The legislation has the support of Supervisors London Breed, David Campos, Scott Wiener and Eric Mar.

Avalos said that while Mayor Ed Lee and the commission opposed The City’s aggregation program, “They have offered no other solution to provide San Franciscans with 100 percent renewable electricity. With this ordinance we can either join Marin or we can implement our own program, but we can no longer afford to do nothing.”

The legislation comes as other municipalities are moving forward with similar power programs, which allow governments to purchase energy from renewable energy and transmit it to customers using the existing infrastructure.

Avalos said San Francisco is no longer the leader it used to be with environmental programs. Marin County was the first community choice aggregation program to launch in the state in 2010. Last year, Richmond became a customer of Marin’s program, and Sonoma is expected to begin its own community choice program next month.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Local Agency Formation Commission will discuss selecting a consultant to hammer out details addressing the myriad concerns expressed by critics of the program. Those issues include rates that were too high and the lack of a specific plan for building renewable energy projects such as wind, solar or energy efficiencies.

Bay Area Newscommunity-choice aggregationSan Francisco Public Utilities CommissionSupervisor John AvalosUnder the Dome

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