Public Power in Jeopardy?


By Sarah Phelan

In the mood for some political fireworks? Head to Dec. 12 meeting of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. A renewable public power project at Hunters Point that has the blessing of the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, SFPUC General Manager Susan Leal and District 10 Sup. Sophie Maxwell is said to be experiencing opposition from none other than PUC Board President Richard Sklar.
You’d have to be brave to risk being the Man who would stand between Public Power and the Bayview, but Sklar who came to the city from Cleveland in the 1970s, has a history of clashing with the mayors who appoint him, starting with then Mayor Dianne Feinstein when she made him SFPUC General Manager.
According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, by the end of that tenure, Feinstein and Sklar were feuding over everything from the Muni to high-rise development, with Feinstein calling Sklar "arrogant,’ and Sklar calling her a "lightweight".

Will Sklar end up insulting Gavin? Will Gavin dish on Sklar? Too soon to tell, but Sklar is said to be voicing worst-case scenarios, claiming that the project, which will cost the PUC an estimated $12 million, doesn’t make financial sense, because it will take too long before that investment gets recouped.

Perhaps Sklar’s worried that newly elected Supervisor Ed Jew, who has an obsession with PUC finances, will make his life a living hell. Or maybe Sklar concerns are valid and could simply use a good old -fashioned public whipping to turn them into amendments that everyone can live with,

One thing to consider: if the Commission dilly dallies too long, there’s a danger that PG&E, who’d rather be providing the infrastructure and power at the Shipyard anyway, could come knocking ever so lightly on Lennar’s door…

Either way, this is a great opportunity to show up and share your thoughts on green power, public power, environmental justice for the Southeast, renewable energy and visions of a solar future.

The meeting begins at 1.30 pm, Room 400, City Hall, Tuesday, December 12th.
The item in question is number 12 on the PUC agenda. Be there.