Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunchMayor Ed Lee

CleanPowerSF needs rates to be set to begin

I often tell people it's important to speak truth to power. Today I want to speak truth about power.

Hunter Stern's recent opinion article in The San Francisco Examiner about CleanPowerSF and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission badly needs some truth. It's the sort of thing you might have thought came from PG&E. Stern represents the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 which, though he didn't mention it, represents PG&E workers.

Stern's mistakes — let's call them mistakes — begin in his very first paragraph, where he says the SFPUC “appropriately rejected” a contract with Shell Energy. That is wrong.

The SFPUC already has approved a framework for working with Shell Energy. What the SFPUC dropped the ball on was setting rates for CleanPowerSF, which would allow the process to go forward as originally intended. Not doing so is a convenient way to try to monkey-wrench a program that San Franciscans badly want and the Board of Supervisors approved. And that the environment needs.

CleanPowerSF was something I worked to create when I was on the Board of Supervisors, before San Franciscans elected me to represent them in Sacramento.

Today, San Francisco can move into the era of clean power, with a greenhouse gas-free source. All we need is for the SFPUC to set those rates. Instead, they looked at their shoes and did nothing. If they were getting the kind of advice Stern is providing, it's not surprising that they were confused.

Stern is also wrong about the source of that energy. Shell has committed, in a letter to the SFPUC, to provide all the energy from “a carbon-neutral energy supply” — all from within California, all produced with union labor.

While he pooh-poohs renewable energy credits used in the process, the reality is that they represent verifiable, renewable power sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. That is renewable energy. Meanwhile, I'm told PG&E failed to even meet the 20 percent state minimum for renewable energy from 2010-12.

He also throws stones at the Local Agency Formation Commission, because it is paid to work toward the clean-energy future. As a past chairman of LAFCO, I can tell you it's not just an administrative fee. It is the LAFCO staff that has been working to make sure the Shell Energy contract would get us off on the right foot to making San Francisco energy independent while reducing greenhouse gases.

With union-operated facilities, as I said before.

He's wrong on the bond issue, too. The bonds approved when I was on the Board of Supervisors could provide much more than the $100 million in energy infrastructure Stern speaks about in just the first phase of build-out. Paying off those bonds is simple, once we get CleanPowerSF rolling along.

So PG&E needs to stop acting like the rate structure is something electrified and deadly to touch. It's what we need to get to a powerful, clean future.

Tom Ammiano is a state assemblyman whose 17th District covers San Francisco.

CleanPowerSFop-edOpinionSan Francisco Public Utilities CommissionTom Ammiano

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

“Tenet,” the new Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington, is showing at the drive-in in Concord. (Courtesy Warner Bros.)
Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

By Amelia Williams Bay City News Foundation Anyone else catch the “Grease”… Continue reading

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

In this handout image provided by the California Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Scott Peterson poses for a mug shot March 17, 2005 in San Quentin, California. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi sentenced Peterson to death March 16 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. (California Department of Corrections via Getty Images/TNS)
Prosecutors to retry penalty phase of Scott Peterson trial

2003 discovery of Laci Peterson’s body led to sensational high-profile murder trial of husband

Most Read