Energy deficiency - Page 4

Green Issue: Utilities miss energy efficiency goals but seek more public funds anyway
Photo by Thomas Hawk

If you're just doing green supply, and not green load reduction, it's going to be really hard not to pay more than PG&E."


While Clean Power SF lags, energy efficiency programs are percoutf8g throughout the city — usually touted by Mayor Gavin Newsom and funded through public-private partnerships with PG&E.

In a recent post on, Newsom announced the creation of an Existing Buildings Efficiency Task Force — composed of landlords, developers, PG&E, and other downtown interests — tasked with greening buildings and creating green jobs.

"The Task Force builds upon a great deal of work we're doing already — taking full advantage of the $7 [million] to $11 million provided in energy efficiency block grants by the federal stimulus, leveraging our ongoing ... partnership with PG&E, and working with private partners to create a San Francisco Clean Energy Fund," Newsom wrote.

A recent initiative to install energy efficient streetlights in the Tenderloin is the result of another PG&E partnership. While there's no doubt that these programs will have positive results, they also serve to further entrench PG&E into citywide green initiatives, which render it more difficult for Clean Power SF to gain footing further down the road.

With federal stimulus money flowing into state coffers, the utilities are back at the table, recommending to the CPUC that some of the federal funding go into their existing energy-efficiency programs. "We believe that the Recovery Act or ARRA funds should work in conjunction with [investor-owned utility] programs to minimize potential customer confusion and leverage the success we have had with the programs," Marc Gaines, a representative for the state's four investor-owned utilities, said during a recent All-Party CPUC meeting to discuss the stimulus funds. "Rather than competing with the programs, we would like to use ARRA funding to supplement existing energy efficiency [and other] programs."

Not so fast, countered George, who stood up to speak during the meeting. "We have to worry about if these funds are commingled with current programs, are the utilities going to rake off profits?" she wondered. "These funds need to be used for authorized purposes, and not for fraud, waste, error, and abuse. The energy efficiency programs have been used to fight public power and community choice efforts. The competition is brutal when it comes to the utilities."