Plan Follows 2004 Ordinance to Find New Electricity Provider & Build Citywide Solar Power Network
San Francisco Energy Independence Ordinance
General Questions About The Energy Independence Ordinance
Comparison of Community Choice to Public Power, Regulation and Deregulation
How Does Community Choice Make Solar Cost-Effective?
San Francisco's Study of Community Choice by R.W. Beck
Ohio's Experience with Community Choice
In Spring, 2007, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on a plan to build the world's largest municipal solar power public works project.
The plan follows over two years of work by Local Power joined by Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Our City and a coalition of San Francisco community groups, after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance on May 11, 2004. The Community Choice (CCA) Implementation Plan follows a state law allowing California cities and counties to switch residents and businesses to a new power supplier for electricity service - and to finance a network of renewable energy and energy conservation projects that will dramatically reduce the communtiy's dependency on natural gas and nuclear power plants.
The move, sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, follows a California Public Utilities Commission decision to make room for communities like San Francisco to break away from utility power contracts to control their own energy destiny under California's Community Choice law (AB117, Migden), and answers a 2001 voter mandate for green power from San Francisco’s 2001 Solar Bond Authority, Proposition H.
Electricity is the nation's largest single cause of greenhouse gas pollution, and causes one quarter of San Francisco's emissions. Millions of Americans receive energy via Community Choice laws passed in Massachusetts, Ohio, and New Jersey and Rhode Island in recent years, and one aggregation involving over half a million customers has already achieved a 33% greenhouse gas reduction in its electricity without a rate increase. Over a dozen cities representing three million residents - and over ten percent of California's investor-owned utility market - are now actively seeking to implement the new law with at least 40% green power in their mix - twice the level required by state law.
The Energy Independence ordinance directed City departments to prepare an Implementation Plan and Request for Proposals for the Board of Supervisors to solicit new Electric Service Providers interested in supplying power to San Franciscans, and building 360 Megawatts of new solar photovoltaic installations, distributed generation such as fuel cells, wind turbines, hydrogen, energy efficiency, and conservation technologies as standard components of the City’s electricity service. The City Controller’'s office has agreed to assist in developing the analysis necessary to develop the draft implementation plan. Under Community Choice, power would be “wheeled” over PG&E’s lines. Ratepayers would also have the option to opt-out and remain with PG&E as their power supplier.
The conversion, say proponents, would protect residents and businesses against increasingly volatile natural gas prices, assist in closing power plants that cause breast cancer and childhood asthma, and make the City a leader in the global effort to stop climate change. On an average day, San Francisco requires 650 Megawatts of power at night and 850 Megawatts during the day. A 360 Megawatt investment in green power – as called for in the City’s adopted Electricity Resource Plan – will far exceed the Renewable Portfolio Standard called for by state law.
Community Choice law enables power providers to mix solar with less expensive resources such as energy efficiency technologies, bringing down the average price of the City’s portfolio of resources to be competitive with PG&E’s electric bills. “What is more, after it is paid off, this infrastructure will continue to provide power to San Franciscans at considerably lower rates for decades,” said Paul Fenn of Oakland-based Local Power, who authored the Community Choice law (AB117, sponsored Assemblyperson Carole Migden, 2002) and assisted Ammiano’s office in drafting both the 2001 “H Bond Authority” and the Energy Independence Ordinance. “Energy independence offers San Franciscans permanent protection against future energy crises, and hard savings that cannot be taken away.”
Supervisor Ammiano sponsored the successful H Bond Authority for renewable energy and conservation projects in 2001. Proposition H, coupled with the proposed ordinance, will allow the City to finance the green power projects, allowing for a more gradual repayment of the solar, wind, conservation and efficiency investments without a rate increase.
“This ordinance will offer a kind of insurance against wildly fluctuating energy prices and permanently reduce the amount of power San Franciscans need to buy from the grid,” said Ammiano. “We can work towards closing the City’s polluting power plants and make the City comply with the Kyoto Treaty, all at the same rates PG&E charges - now I call that a bargain.”
Supervisor Ammiano announced his “Energy Independence Ordinance” on February 17 flanked by Local Power Founder & Director Paul Fenn (local.org), S.F. Dept of the Environment Director Jared Blumenfeld, Sierra Club Int’l Vice President Michele Perrault, California Wind Credit Law architect Tyrone Cashman, Sacramento Solar Architect Donald Aitken, Community First Coalition President Maurice Campbell, UC Berkeley Professor Daniel Kammen, Greenpeace USA and TURN at a City Hall press conference today.
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Founder and Director of Local Power, Paul Fenn authored San Francisco's Energy Independence Ordinance (Ammiano). Fenn is also author of California's Community Choice law, AB117 or Chapter 838 of 2002 (Migden), which allows municipalities to switch their communities to alternative energy providers - as well as author of San Francisco's 2001 voter-approved "Solar Bond" or "H Bond" authority (Ammiano). Mr. Fenn has also authored of state "Solar Networking" legislation, Senate 697, sponsored by Pomona Senator Nell Soto. Local Power is based in Oakland, California and may be found at www.local.org
Copyright 2007 by Local Power.