Hetch Hetchy History Lights Up a Crowd

The Presidio Golf and Concordia Club invited the SFPUC to give a talk about an uncommon topic – this history of electricity in San Francisco.

On Wednesday evening, SFPUC historian Mike Housh detailed the history of San Francisco electricity starting in 1918, when hydroelectric power was first generated for round-the-clock construction of the O’Shaugnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Board of Public Works, Hetch Hetchy, Hetch Hetchy Dam at night.

Hetch Hetchy tap water is a household name, but what many San Franciscans don’t know is that the source of their drinking water has also been generating clean electricity for over a hundred years. As water flows from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to San Francisco and the Bay Area, it produces 100% greenhouse gas-free hydroelectric energy that powers the City’s public services like Muni, City Hall, streetlights, schools, and libraries.

Board of Public Works, Hetch Hetchy. Powerhouse at Early Intake.

“The more people know about Hetch Hetchy and its history, the more likely they are to protect it,” said Housh.

SFPUC Public Relations Officer Jackie Randazzo brought the discussion to present day with a presentation about SFPUC current power programs Hetch Hetchy Power and CleanPowerSF. Between both programs, the SFPUC now serves about 80% of the City’s electricity load with cleaner energy, helping to reach San Francisco’s goal of 100% clean energy 2030.

“We received many questions about our current power programs and PG&E, along with all of the questions about the history of Hetch Hetchy,” said Randazzo. “I think people understand the importance of clean energy for our future and want to know what the SFPUC is doing today to promote it.”

Sunset Reservoir-Solar Panels located on the roof of reservoir