The SFPUC has partnered with NextEra Energy Resources to provide $170,000 in grant funding for COVID-19 relief efforts in Blythe, California and its surrounding area in Riverside County.
The SFPUC’s local clean energy program CleanPowerSF contracted with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources to expand a solar array in the area that will supply renewable energy to nearly 380,000 CleanPowerSF customers in San Francisco.
The $170,000 in grant funds was provided to beneficiaries in May. Later this summer, an additional $100,000 is expected to be granted to a scholarship fund. The grants will be distributed among the City of Blythe, Lift to Rise, and the Riverside Latino Commission Counseling Center. Programs such as food banks, food pantries, cash relief, homeless services and counseling/therapy will be supported by the funding, and may be available to individuals who do not normally qualify for assistance.
As part of their contract with the SFPUC, NextEra Energy Resources made a commitment to provide funding to community organizations in Blythe within five years of launching its expanded solar array in the region. However, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the grants will be administered immediately.
The SFPUC’s Social Impact Partnership Program invites private sector firm partners to give back to the communities in which they are performing work on behalf of the SFPUC. The SFPUC is the first public utility in the country to implement a social impact program that advances corporate social responsibility as a part of its competitive bidding process for professional services, alternative delivery and energy procurement contracts.
Other examples of the SFPUC’s Social Impact Partnership program include the Maisin Scholar Award, which provides financial support for local youth to pursue higher education, CityWorks, which offers paid internships for young adults in the City’s Southeast communities, and the Phoenix Fund, a small business assistance program for local companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CleanPowerSF launched in 2016 with a mission to provide San Francisco residents and businesses with clean, renewable electricity at competitive rates. Following the largest and last enrollment period in April of this year, CleanPowerSF now serves about 380,000 customer accounts in San Francisco.
Along with CleanPowerSF, the SFPUC operates the Hetch Hetchy Regional Power System, which provides 100 percent greenhouse gas free energy to public facilities, such as City Hall, San Francisco International Airport, Muni buses, schools and libraries. Collectively, the two systems meet approximately 80 percent of the electricity demand in San Francisco.
In addition to partnering with NextGen on COVID-19 relief efforts in Blythe, the SFPUC has also provided local support efforts during the pandemic. Last month, the agency launched an emergency community assistance program to help residential customers struggling to pay their water, sewer and Hetch Hetchy power bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency also suspended water and power shutoffs due to late payments, while postponing liens and collections, waiving late fees and providing rental payment deferments for tenants of the SFPUC’s facilities.