Supes won't let mayor raid CleanPowerSF without a fight


The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee today voted to reject the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission budget, an effort by Sup. John Avalos and others to force Mayor Ed Lee to the bargaining table over the city’s neglected sustainable energy infrastructure needs.

“I wanted to get the mayor’s attention and to find a practical way to let the mayor know the Power Enterprise infrastructure needs help, as well as CleanPowerSF,” Avalos told the Guardian. CleanPowerSF would provide electricity derived from renewable sources to enrollees in the municipal program.

After CleanPowerSF was approved by a veto-proof majority on the Board of Supervisors last year, Lee’s appointees to the SFPUC blocked implementation of the program during what should have been a routine vote to set a maximum rate. Then Lee this year raided those funds and transferred them to his GoSolar program.

“Because he raided our funds, I worked with [fellow Budget Committee members Sups.] Eric Mar and London Breed to kill his budget,” Avalos told us, noting that he alerted Lee on Sunday of his intention to do so and never got a response. “It was remarkable that he thought he could just bring this to committee and thought everything was hunky-dory.”

Christine Falvey, the mayor's spokesperson, said the mayor hadn't had time yet to develop his next step but "the mayor is committed to funding GoSolar, a program that can start immediately, help us reach our agressive environmental goals and employ San Francisco residents."

The tendrils of the mayor's power could be felt even in the SFPUC's Citizens' Advisory Committee meeting last night. The committee makes recommendations to the PUC with no authority for mandate, but rather for long-term strategic, financial and capital improvement plans.

As the committee considered a vote to recommend the PUC move forward with CleanPowerSF, the tussle between the mayor and the supervisors reverberated through their frank discussions.

"The problem is the mayor is violently against this program," said Walt Farrell, a committee member from Supervisor Norman Yee's District 7. He added, "How will you convince them?"

Director of Policy and Administration at Power Enterprise Kim Malcolm was slated to be the Director of CleanPowerSF, but she deflected, saying it wasn't up to her.

"We view our job as, we do what the policy makers tell us to do," she said.

Jason Fried, executive director of the Local Agency Formation Commission, told the CAC most of the mayor's concerns regarding CleanPowerSF have since been addressed. 

The mayor critiqued the program for relying on Shell for energy, Fried said, but now Shell is out of the picture.


Kim Malcolm presents information on CleanPowerSF to the SFPUC Citizens' Advisory Committee.

He said the program could also possibly provide extra money for Power Enterprise, the city's Hetch Hetchy powered hydroelectric system. 

Highlighting all the benefits of CleanPowerSF, Jess Derbin-Ackerman, a conservation organizer speaking on behalf of the Sierra Club, urged action.

"This program was in the works for ten years," she said, and "it's largely been fought because of political attachments to PG&E."

She noted more than four other counties in Northern California are now shifting to clean power, and San Francisco lags behind.

"Get with it," she said, "the rest of the Bay Area is." 

Ultimately the CAC opted to push the vote backing CleanPowerSF until its next meeting, due to absent members. The CAC's chair, Wendolyn Aragon, supported the supervisors stalling the PUC budget.

"CleanPowerSF has been proven time and time again as a viable source of clean energy," she told the Guardian. "But if Mayor Lee and the SFPUC Commissioners (whom he appoints) want to keep denying that ... it's time to draw a line in the sand."

Now that the PUC's budget has been formally rejected, the agency has $20 million in reserves that it can spend until it comes up with a budget that meets the approval of the Board of Supervisors, as the City Charter requires. In the meantime, Avalos called on Lee to negotiate in good faith with the board.

“The path forward is to negotiate,” Avalos told us. “The mayor has overstepped his bounds on this issue. He is not taking the leadership to convene us together to find a solution.”


Public power has always lost at elections and many voters see this clean energy idea as a backdoor way of introducing public power while bypassing the voters. The voters also dislike Shell a lot more than they dislike PG&E.

Given that clean energy will be significantly more expensive than our current supplier, nobody is excited about it, especially now that PG&E is over 60% sustainable anyway.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2014 @ 7:05 am

Actually Guest, the claims you are making about CleanPowerSF are all outdated, and false.

See the report:

"Every argument the mayor has against CleanPowerSF just got demolished. Every single one." at:

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 23, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

Sorry but that blogger is an SFBG alumni, i.e. hopelessly biased on PG&E.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

Of course progressive journalists are biased against the corrupt and murderous PG&E corporation, but every fact in Tim's report is spot on, and verifiable.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 23, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

voters have said they want to keep PG&E over public power.

Why doesn't this CleanPower initiative go to the voters as well? What are you afraid of?

If the voters approve it, I'm cool with it. But without that, I am on Ed Lee's side here and am willing to let it stall.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 5:41 pm


a) CleanPowerSF does not get rid of PG&E, it just allows San Francisco customers to shop around for a better deal on electricity source, cleanliness, and price. PG&E will still run the electricity system just as it always has.


b) Voters already approved the bonding authority for CleanPowerSF and other programs like it, when they passed Prop H in 2001. So CleanPowerSF is a program that has already gotten a thumbs up from the voters, and the only reason that it hasn't launched yet, is Mayor Lee's interference.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 23, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

>"CleanPowerSF is a program that has already gotten a thumbs up from the voters"

Um....that is a MAJOR stretch to say that the voters approved CleanPowerSF, sorry. Here is what the voters were told when they approved Prop H:

THE PROPOSAL: Proposition H is a Charter amendment
that would add another exception to the voter-approval
requirement for issuing revenue bonds. Under the proposed
exception, the Board of Supervisors could authorize
the issuance of revenue bonds to buy, build, or improve
renewable energy facilities or energy conservation facilities
without voter approval.

A “YES” VOTE MEANS: If you vote yes, you want to
amend the Charter to allow the Board of Supervisors to
authorize the issuance of revenue bonds to pay for renewable
energy or energy conservation facilities without voter

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 10:57 pm

That ballot measure was written -specifically- to enable the Board to use revenue bonds to launch the CleanPowerSF program and the local clean energy build-out that is to serve as its foundation.

In fact the measure was written by Paul Fenn, who also authored all of the state and local legislation that founded CleanPowerSF, as partner legislation to those measures.

And the CleanPowerSF program precisely fits the criterion laid out in Prop H.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 24, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

And to address the comments below, the Shell contract has been canceled and will not be reopened, and no money whatsoever will go to Shell under CleanPowerSF. Period.

Here is a report laying out that and other key facts about CleanPowerSF:

"Every argument the mayor has against CleanPowerSF just got demolished. Every single one."

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 23, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

The $20M in question is the amount that was guaranteed to the Dutch Shell Oil Company if too many people opted out of the CleanPowerSF program. Thank you Ed Lee. Without you, $20M of SF money would have been given to the Dutch Shell Oil Company by John Avalos, David Campos and Eric Mar.

Considering that many CleanPowerSF supporters also support the tearing down of Hetch Hetchy, it is ironic that CleanPowerSF wants to spend $20M to upgrade the dam and electrical infrastructure. Wouldn't Solar Panel installations on SF buildings be a better use of this money?

However, there is a really big joke imbedded in this article..."CleanPowerSF has been proven time and time again as a viable source of clean energy" Since not one bit of energy has been created by it, this is one of the most idiotic statements I have ever read here.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 22, 2014 @ 10:12 am

CPSF has another hidden cost : $10 Billions would be given to Shell, or whom ever eventually ends ups trying to rob SF tax payers.
If you read CPSF own literature, it shows a giant solar farm, out in some desert, making solar energy & sending it 900 miles to SF.
The loss of energy in transmission would be a terrible cost and not sustainable.
Every aspect of CPSF reads like a fraud waiting to happen.
Bernie Madoff got away with his fraud because no one read the fine print.
The closer one looks at CPSF the less people like it. I opt out.
Last week Germany broke the world records for solar energy production by homeowners.
Germany did it by requiring Utilities to pay homeowners $0.99 kwh for feeding solar onto the grid.
This created 400,000 jobs and $6 billion in income for Germany.
This is how we can take over PG&E.

Posted by Paul Kangas on May. 22, 2014 @ 11:15 am

Just get enough people to buy enough of their shares to win proxy votes.

Then convert PG&E to all green/clean power, if you think the consumers will go for that. They never have in the past.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2014 @ 11:43 am

It is false to say that 4 other California counties are adopting CPSF.
CCA is a dying idea. DoA.

Example: Marin Clean Energy (MCE) gets its hydro energy from
The Columbia River, 900 miles away.
This loss of energy in transmission is not sustainable.
MCE is fraud.
When a local farmer asked MCE to approve him putting up 100 solar panels in Novato, MCE vetoed any private party making money by feeding solar onto the grid. If small farmers can’t feed solar onto the grid, something stinks in Denmark.

What we need, as Stanford Prof. Mark Z. Jacobson points out, is a plan to go !00% solar, wind, geo & water.
Germany will be the first nation to achieve 100% solar & renewables, by 2041.
There are 69 nations that have adopted the German solar payment plan.
We should adopt the German model.

Posted by Paul Kangas on May. 22, 2014 @ 11:53 am

Marin's program has grown to include Richmond, is economically more stable and strong every day due to plummeting renewable energy prices, and is in the process of building its own local renewables. Any clean power that Marin is buying from the north is being credited - with payments going directly to the clean energy producers, and with the electricity itself coming from the grid locally, not shipped long distance - so the line loss that Paul has claimed is a fairy tale.

Sonoma's program just launched, at prices -lower- than PG&E, and is serving customers local energy from its own geothermal plants.

The solar panels that got rejected in Marin were halted because NIMBY neighbors (of the business that wanted to install them) complained, appealed, and got them blocked. Marin's program of course supported that solar installation.

Finally, Marin is currently pursuing score of megawatts of local clean energy installations, and recently Marin's prices have also been lower than PG&E.

So it is no surprise that backdoor PG&E spokepersons like Mr. Kangas are suddenly so worked up about Marin; because Marin is starting to kick PG&E's butt on both clean energy content and price. As is Sonoma.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 23, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

Who is the man behind the curtain?
The real power behind CPSF is ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) The way they "bribe" these people advocating for CPSF is they offer them "jobs, after CPSF passes!” That way no one can prove a bribe.
Japan now requires Utilities to pay home owners $0.53 kwh for feeding solar onto the grid.
As does 69 nations around the world.
Mother Nature bats last.
Either we adopt what the rest of the world is doing,
or we are left at the mercery of the gas fracking companies.
Stop fracking my Mother.

Posted by Paul Kangas on May. 22, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

you are actually claiming that the extremely anti clean energy, climate science denying ALEC, has a secret conspiracy to promote renewable energy????

did you sprinkle a little too much selenium on your breakfast cereal this morning paul????

blog viewers, here is a link to another conspiracy that Paul Kangas believes in: that africans and african americans historically enslaved, and are still enslaving, themselves...

that little ditty should give you sense of the credibility of Paul's claims

Posted by anonymous on May. 23, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

we're looking for renewable, not the sustainable energy products "apparatus" as marketed by insectile functionaries at energy companies such as PG&E.

thanks so much for your most torpid post.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

typically includes an energy form like nuclear which, although technically finite, is in reality effectively infinite.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

SF Mayor's Office, SENATOR Feinstein, the SFPD, the SF DA and others. Watch my videos on YOUTUBE and get prepared to STOP the INSANITY and TASTE the LIES.

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