IT'S CCA TIME!

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By Amanda Witherell

Ever since the California State Assembly passed AB 117 in 2002 legalizing “Community Choice Aggregation” (CCA) public power advocates have been eagerly awaiting the day San Francisco would get the legislative ball rolling and start divorce proceedings with it’s current electricity provider, Pacific Gas and Electric.

That ball got a big push from Sups. Tom Ammiano and Ross Mirkarimi on Tuesday April 17, when they introduced a draft implementation plan for CCA to their fellow board members. The plan calls for the city to purchase and provide 51 percent of its energy from renewables by 2017.

“It’s wonderful considering the response to global warming from PG&E has been fossil fuel, ‘clean’ coal, and nuclear power,” Mirkarimi told the Guardian.

Read how CCA will make San Francisco 50 percent greener, after the jump...

According to the plan, 360 megawatts – about half the city’s daily requirement – would come from solar panels, a wind farm, conservation, and increased efficiency. (PG&E currently sources 12 percent of its power from renewables and is projected to miss Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mandate of 20 percent renewables by 2010.)

CCA allows municipalities to purchase electricity for residents and then use the existing infrastructure owned and operated by utilities, like PG&E, to funnel the power to homes. Proponents of this system say it allows cities, which don’t answer to shareholders but do answer to the people who receive and require the power, to have greater control over costs, more transparency and accountability, and much more say over where the power comes from – an increasingly critical point for this traditionally fossil fueled industry. There are at least 48 other cities and counties in California currently enacting or considering CCA plans, including Berkeley, Oakland, Marin, Sonoma, LA, and San Diego.

With funding approved by Prop H revenue bonds, the city will bid out the contract for construction and maintenance of solar and wind power generators on municipal property, as well as efficiency and conservation investments.

The city would ultimately buy out the contractor, and this plan is an initial investment with the ultimate goal being to provide all of San Francisco’s energy needs from locally owned and renewable sources. The current plan was drafted by the CCA Task Force, which includes members from the BOS, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission and Department of the Environment, Local Power, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace.

It still requires approval from the BOS, a signature from the Mayor, and a thumbs-up from the City Attorney, which will require some minor hashing out and concessions, Mirkarimi said, regarding where jurisdiction of the plan will ultimately go -- the SFPUC, the BOS, or an independent Board of Control made up of representatives from both.

The legislation was scheduled to be introduced last Tuesday, but was held a week at the request of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who wanted to be on hand for the announcement of the plan. He did not, however, attend the press conference at City Hall. “We waited a week for the Mayor, and then he no-showed,” said Mirkarimi. The Mayor has expressed support of CCA in the past. “While we’re hopeful that the Mayor is still supportive, we didn’t want to delay the legislation any further. It would be a real 180 if he backed out now.”