SF issues timeline to approve CleanPowerSF by October

mike koozmin/s.f. examiner file photoThe San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's call for a new timeline for the CleanPowerSF program has received backing from supporters

A newly announced target for the approval of San Francisco's renewable-energy program not only seems to indicate for its supporters that the effort has risen from out of the political quagmire, but is a sign of promise.

The renewed effort, they say, will determine whether this time The City will follow through on the more-than-decade-old pledge of launching a community-choice aggregation program to compete with PG&E.

The timeline to approve the new CleanPowerSF program by October was announced Tuesday by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and has received backing from supporters, notably Supervisor John Avalos, who was the most outspoken critic of Mayor Ed Lee and the SFPUC for failing to support the effort in 2013. At that time, the program was ready to launch if utility rates had been approved but they were rejected. Since then, the mayor, now in his re-election year, made a surprise announcement that he reversed his position on the program and hopes it will launch.

SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly called the new timeline a “realistic schedule.”

“There are opportunities for us to beat the schedule,” Kelly said. “We will be willing to partner with everyone who can help us beat the schedule.”

Details of the renewed program are expected in mid-April and a vote on maximum energy rates is expected in May.

Later Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved in an 11-0 vote the mayor's appointment of Ike Kwon, general manager of the California Academy of Sciences, to serve on the commission after Kwon received praise from both sides of the political aisle. Avalos said that Kwon has “really staked his reputation on having CleanPowerSF move forward.”

Part of the timeline includes having the board and mayor modify The City's existing city contracting laws to make it easier for the agency to enter into energy-procurement contracts. Under the program, the SFPUC would purchase energy from renewable sources and deliver it to customers using PG&E's power infrastructure.

“The schedule has us beginning today and serving customers in early 2016,” said Barbara Hale, SFPUC assistant general manager for power. Marin and Sonoma counties have already established such programs and the city of Lancaster's begins in the spring.

Another controversial issue also returned for discussion Tuesday: regulations of Airbnb and other short-term rentals. Supervisor Mark Farrell requested a hearing on the enforcement of the short-term rental law that went into effect on Feb. 1. As of last week there were approximately 350 appointments out of thousands of hosts scheduled through the end of April. No one had yet to actually register under the new law.

Meanwhile, Supervisor David Campos requested that the budget analyst examine the impact short-term rentals are having on the rental stock, rent control and rent prices.

In church news, the board, as expected, wasn't silent on the current controversy surrounding San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and his “moral” guidelines in the faculty handbook. Farrell introduced a resolution that condemns the guidelines.

Barbara HaleBay Area NewsCleanPowerSFGovernment & PoliticsMayor Ed LeePolitics

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