Manuel Ramirez doesn’t need a crystal ball to glean insights of the future for Hetch Hetchy Power, San Francisco’s public power utility. He’s already planning for it.
As the Manager for Redevelopment Projects, Manuel and his team build out new electrical infrastructure so Hetch Hetchy Power can energize large redevelopment projects in San Francisco. Specifically, the team is currently focusing on construction at Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands, Pier 70, Mission Rock and Candlestick Point, among others. They also work on redeveloped affordable housing projects like Alice Griffith, Sunnydale and Potrero.
Ensuring redevelopment projects in San Francisco are powered by 100% greenhouse gas-free energy is important work, but it’s not easy. Ramirez says one of the biggest challenges in his role is to make sure he and his team stay on schedule. “Our obstacles can be anything from financial to changing regulatory requirements,” he says. He’s also busy—very busy. A typical day for Ramirez is one that includes meetings with developers to address technical issues or with other city departments to make sure projects are on schedule, discussions with City Attorneys on contract negotiations and ensuring his team has the resources it needs to complete their work (phew).
Yet Ramirez says the effort is worth it and enjoys the work at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), where he’s been for the past 15 years. His previous experience working at the state level on energy policy gave him both a high-level and grounded view of the California electrical sector and the important role that municipal utilities play. “I moved to the SFPUC because I wanted to be part of transitioning the City from PG&E to a municipal utility. I’m happy to say that while I’ve had many roles in the Power Enterprise, each has been to protect the City’s interest and push for more local control of our own distribution and energy supply.” Ramirez isn’t alone. Nearly 70% of San Franciscans support 100% public power for the City.
While purchasing PG&E’s assets locally and expanding Hetch Hetchy Power to serve the entire city remains the City’s goal, for now Ramirez and his team continue to expand public power’s footprint in San Francisco one project at a time. Thanks to Hetch Hetchy Power, a cleaner, greener future is already here. We don’t need a crystal ball for that.