Mayor Lee wants fresh start on clean power

After years of planning, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is asking the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to launch a city-run clean energy program for San Franciscans by the end of the year.

The program, CleanPowerSF, could offer San Franciscans a renewable energy alternative to PG&E, if it can finally get off the ground.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President London Breed called on the SFPUC this week to create a clean energy program that does not contract with a major oil company, as was formerly proposed:

“San Francisco’s clean energy program should not contract with an oil company with a dubious record of protecting the environment and human rights: we can do better.”

The mayor called on the SFPUC to develop a program that is:

“… affordable for customers, greener for our planet, takes advantage of renewable technology being developed right here in our City and has a real plan for creating jobs for our residents.”

The Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Shell Energy North America to purchase energy from renewable sources in September 2012, but the SFPUC has not acted on the program due to concerns over the true environmental benefits of the program, according to the mayor’s office.

Lee opposed a clean energy program that was approved by a veto-proof majority of the Board of Supervisors in 2013. Back in 2013, Lee said the program had been watered down to a point where it included more renewable energy credits than renewable sources themselves.

The program “no longer had any direct immediate environmental benefit,” the mayor said in 2013.┬áLee also said he would prefer to see a program that allows residents to opt into it rather than being automatically adopted.

Supervisor John Avalos said in 2013 that he believed PG&E and its unions were pushing the mayor to oppose the program so its monopoly as San Francisco’s power source would be maintained.

Lee is now asking the SFPUC and city departments working on the CleanPowerSF project to develop a reliable renewable energy business model and approve the new program by the end of the 2015.