New SFPUC Study Outlines ‘Major Advantages’ to Expanding Public Power in SF

The SFPUC today delivered its preliminary study on public power options for San Francisco, with the agency considering alternatives that could provide limited independence from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), targeted investment for increased independence, or reach full independence by purchasing PG&E assets.

The report came at the direction of the Mayor London Breed, who requested the study following the announcement in January that PG&E would be seeking bankruptcy protection. The findings represent the first step toward exploring the potential acquisition of PG&E assets for public use, although any purchase of the equipment would require a lengthy process.

SFPUC preliminary report on electric service options, May 2019

The SFPUC will now begin the next phase of analysis, which will study the issue in much more detail. The second phase will examine the impact of acquiring PG&E distribution assets on workforce, environmental justice, affordability, safety and reliability, neighborhood revitalization and community engagement, among other considerations.

The SFPUC recently completed the largest and last major enrollment of CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s local renewable energy program. More than 360,000 residents and businesses are now customers in the initiative.

Additionally, the SFPUC receives 100 percent greenhouse gas-free hydroelectricity from the Hetch Hetchy Regional Power System, which is used to power Muni vehicles, City Hall, public libraries and more.

Between Hetch Hetchy and CleanPowerSF, the SFPUC meets nearly 80 percent of the electricity demand in San Francisco. Those programs have been instrumental in helping the City reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent below 1990 levels—a decrease that has far exceeded expectations.

The SFPUC’s strong track record of efficiently operating power programs has been noticed by San Francisco residents. In a recent poll, nearly 70 percent of respondents favored the SFPUC delivering public power to the City, citing affordability, transparency and cleaner energy as reasons for their support.