Parting gift

Harrington finally brings CleanPowerSF to City Hall, hoping his SFPUC legacy will be a city that produces its own renewable energy


Retirement is knocking at Ed Harrington's door. But the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission general manager is hesitating, not quite able to muster the will needed to walk out the door. He has something that he wants to finish first.

The sage city veteran has labored for years to launch an historic program so transformative that it would finally allow city residents and businesses to reject a homicidal utility monopoly and the dirty electricity that it sells. Success could be mere weeks away; failure would be a bitter blow.Read more »

Two clean energy tracks for SF

Small tweaks could make the city's road to sustainable power a lot less bumpy


OPINION CleanPowerSF, San Francisco's green electricity alternative to Pacific Gas and Electric Co., is set to launch this year. The program is following two parallel paths — one to build renewable energy in San Francisco and create thousands of local jobs, the other to purchase clean power from remote sources from Shell Energy.

While both tracks bring advantages, this bifurcated approach could end up serving only 30 percent of city residents. Fortunately, the city can easily improve the launch of CleanPowerSF by merging the two tracks.Read more »

Are we green yet?

San Francisco's ambitious clean-power program moves toward approval


A contract agreement for San Francisco's innovative clean energy program, CleanPowerSF, could be approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as soon as January, representing a major milestone for efforts to put the city in the retail electricity business.Read more »

Guardian forum tonight: Energy and Environment


We've got a great lineup for tonight's Guardian forum on Energy, Environment and Climate Change. I'll be moderating. The panelists are Antonio Diaz for PODER, Alicia Garza from POWER, former Supervisor Aaron Peskin and Saul Bloom from Arc Ecology. We'll be talking about energy policy, environmental racism, how climate change will impact the southeast neighborhoods, the privatization of public space, Treasure Island and a lot more.Read more »

PG&E pitches the Guardian for support


You know that Pacific Gas & Electric is carpet-bombing voters with its campaign to kill the CleanPowerSF program and pass Proposition 16 – which would prevent such renewable public power programs in the future – when one of their minions calls the Bay Guardian City Editor at his desk at work with their pitch.Read more »

Why is the Potrero Power Plant still going strong?


The Potrero Power Plant, a longtime source of pollution and health concerns for residents of San Francisco’s southeastern neighborhoods, is slated for partial closure once the Trans Bay Cable begins transmitting electricity into the city.

The Trans Bay Cable is an undersea cord that will transmit 400 megawatts of power underneath the San Francisco Bay from power plants in the Pittsburg / Antioch area. Last we heard, from a January article in the San Francisco Examiner, the project was running a full month ahead of schedule. Read more »

Willie Brown to speak in favor of Prop 16 tomorrow


A public forum will be held tomorrow at the California Public Utilities Commission to discuss Proposition 16, the ballot initiative that PG&E is bankrolling in order to require a two-thirds majority vote before any municipality can become an electricity provider.

The Guardian has received word that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will be speaking in support of Prop. 16. We initially heard that he would be speaking on behalf of the California Chamber of Commerce, so we placed a call with the COC to verify whether that was the case. That prompted Robin Swanson, spokesperson for the Yes on 16 Campaign, to call and clarify that Brown is speaking on his own behalf. “He’s just speaking in support of Prop 16,” she said, speculating that maybe he was interested in the issue due to his own experience in local government.

Willie Brown formerly worked for PG&E providing “consulting services,” according to a 2007 annual report. Read more »

PG&E’s laughable Prop 16: Who needs friends when you’ve got $35 million?


Last month, when the Guardian sent an intern to cover a debate between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesperson David Townsend and California Sen. Mark Leno, the reporter was ejected from the event at Townsend’s request.

I figured I’d be immune from such nonsense when I ventured to the state capitol yesterday for a joint informational hearing about Proposition 16, the ballot initiative that PG&E has bankrolled for the June ballot for the purpose of extinguishing competition in its service territory. The initiative would establish a two-thirds majority vote before any municipal electricity program could get up and running, and its sole sponsor is PG&E.

But just after I snapped a photo of Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano chuckling sardonically at a PG&E executive who had mistakenly referred to the ballot initiative as “Prop 13,” a guard swooped in and ordered me to stop photographing and turn off my voice recorder. Read more »

Hey Matier & Ross -- PG&E is no security blanket


Today’s San Francisco Chronicle piece by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross brought to mind a Pacific Gas & Electric Co.-sponsored Web site that was set up to undermine the city’s fledgling Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program.

That’s because one of the key points in the story was that San Francisco’s CCA could result in higher customer bills. According to the Chronicle:

"A 2007 city controller's report concluded that a typical residential utility bill under this type of plan could go up by 24 percent if only half the purchased energy is green. The cost would almost certainly go even higher if the city went totally green, the report said."

This city controller’s report is referenced on the PG&E-funded Web site, too, and this supposed 24 percent increase was splashed prominently across colorful outsized postcards that the PG&E-sponsored “Common Sense Coalition” sent to businesses and residences throughout the city last December. However, San Francisco’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), a city commission responsible for setting CCA in motion, maintains that the claim is misleading.


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Berkeley's mayor pushes anti-PG&E protester


At least, that's what Luke Thomas is reporting in Fog City Journal. He's got photos, too.Read more »