CleanPowerSF Community Choice Takes a Giant Step Forward

by Woody Hastings  |   September 30, 2015

Can you say “all oars rowing in
the same direction?”

On Friday, September 25, the San
Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and Local Agency Formation
Commission held a joint meeting to hear the latest from their respective staffs
about plans and timelines for moving forward with the Community Choice program
for San Francisco – CleanPowerSF.

As one after another commissioner
at the joint meeting questioned why there is a new estimated six-week delay in
the timeline, it became clear that there is no resistance whatsoever to moving
forward on CleanPowerSF. The line-up of ten public speakers, every one of them
with a message of “move forward quickly,” further confirmed the unanimity of
purpose.

The delay, which is not expected
to push the anticipated Spring 2016 program launch back, is only reflective of a
tendency on the part of staff to dot every “i” and cross every “t” as they
proceed, aiming to offer “affordable and reliable” service that is
significantly cleaner than the power mix PG&E offers.

Part of the delay is due to the
fact that they received not just 10, 20, 30, or even 40 responses to their Request
for Proposals – they received 52 responses from credible energy service
providers! And that high number of responses requires more time for adequate
review. Having a large number of responses opens up many opportunities for cost
savings and clean power.

The folks in San Francisco have
consulted Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy extensively on how they
rolled out their programs. Although CleanPowerSF is echoing many of what both
of those Community Choice trailblazers did, there will be a key variation in
the launch of CleanPowerSF. CleanPowerSF is first, prior to program launch, formally
and aggressively marketing its “SuperGreen” 100% renewable energy product, similar to
Sonoma Clean Power’s “EverGreen” product. Doing this, according to SFPUC General Manager Harlan
Kelly, will give CleanPowerSF a chance to obtain upwards of 14% enrollment for
the premium product, compared to many other similar programs that gain
enrollments only in the single digits. 220 people have already enrolled,
according to SFPUC Assistant General Manager Barbara Hale.

Although no formal action was
taken, the direction to staff was to continue pursuing the program as quickly
as possible. Part of the urgency is based on the fact that PG&E plans to
offer its own “green” product, probably sometime in the next six months.

That San Francisco is launching a
Community Choice program is a big deal. When CleanPowerSF goes live, it will
send community power energizing ripples throughout the State. After over ten
years of effort in the City by the Bay, it’s heartening to see all oars, at
long last, rowing in the same direction. Stay tuned for future blogs on this
topic.

Woody Hastings is the Renewable Energy
Implementation Manager for the Center for Climate Protection. He can be reached
at woody [at] climateprotection.org

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