Chronologically Ordered LOCAL POWER News Index Local Power's Legislative Agenda, January 2002 SAN FRANCISCO TO IMPLEMENT COMMUNITY CHOICE:

Draft Plan Would Have City Purchase Power for Residents, Businesses If Community Choice Bill Becomes Law

by Paul Fenn

Mayor Willie Brown's top energy advisor has submitted a draft plan to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which would have the City use an anticipated Community Choice law to shield San Franciscans from the price shocks of the state's energy crisis and shift to cleaner power sources.

Brown advisor Ed Smeloff said he wants San Francisco to use the collective purchasing power of city consumers to negotiate electric energy supplies at affordable prices through long-term contracts with producers or ownership of plants.

Local Power's Community Choice bill, AB117, sponsored by Assemblywoman Carole Migden (D-SF) must become law before the plan could go into effect. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking for the state law in 1999 under sponsorship of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano. The Community Choice bill passed the legislature near-unanimously in 2001 but was vetoed as AB48x/AB9xx by Governor Davis. However, Davis advisor David Freeman indicated the Governor would sign the bill after it was unanimoulsy passed a second time by the California Assembly in January 2002. The San Francisco plan, written by Smeloff, an associate of Mr. Freeman, is considered a good sign that the Governor will sign. AB117 Endorsing groups include thirty California cities, CALPIRG, Public Citizen, TURN, The California League of Women Voters, the California League of Cities, and many others.

The San Francisco plan would combine the Community Choice law's aggregation powers with the "Community Power" revenue bond authority - also written and campaigned for by Local Power with San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano during 2001 - to build large scale solar, wind and energy efficiency facilities in the City. Local Power's recently voter-approved solar revenue bond charter amendment, Proposition H, provides the City with an unlimited financing authority to build renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation facilities in government buildings, residences and businesses. Local Power drafted Proposition H as part of a plan to build 50 Megawatts of solar power on the rooftops of San Francisco, the largest urban solar power system in the world.

The San Francisco Chronicle cover page article said the plan marks "the first time in recent memory that a San Francisco city administration has advocated a plan with a major public power component to it."

Strong Support from Cities

California Municipalities, environmental groups and consumer groups strongly support the bill, which would enable municipalities and groups of municipalities to contract out for energy services on behalf of their communities. In particular, the City of San Francisco is lobbying for the bill after the narrow defeat of its public power takeover measures in November 2001.

Local Power drafted the nation's first Community Choice bill in 1994. To learn more about the Community Choice bill or to offer support, please contact Local Power by clicking here.

Copyright 2002 by Local Power.