Clean Power SF will take center stage at joint meeting

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By Rebecca Bowe

Last Friday, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi declared 2009 the “make-or-break year” for San Francisco’s ambitious Community Choice Aggregation program. Also known as Clean Power SF, the program would establish the city and county as an electricity purchaser for residents and businesses currently served by PG&E, and put S.F. on track for achieving 50 percent renewable power generation. At an April 3 LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission) meeting, it was announced that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has agreed to sit down with LAFCo for a meeting about CCA for the first time ever -- a sign that things could actually start moving forward.

The process of getting Clean Power SF off the ground has been fraught with delay, in part because the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission -- which is tasked with implementing the program -- dropped the ball on a series of deadlines. During the last couple monthly meetings, LAFCo, which is charged with overseeing CCA implementation, has vented frustration about the feet dragging at the PUC and questioned the agency’s commitment to the effort. However, the tone shifted some at the April 3 meeting.

CCA director Michael Campbell, who was hired by the SFPUC, noted that the city agency is getting back on schedule -- and announced the launch of a new Web site. Two new LAFCo staff positions were approved recently by the Board of Supervisors, providing further momentum.

And in an unprecedented move, representatives from the SFPUC and LAFCo will sit down together on April 24 for the joint meeting about Clean Power SF. “We need to have a heart-to-heart with the PUC,” Mirkarimi noted. Commissioner David Campos added that the meeting would be a good opportunity “to get the PUC on record on the level of commitment they have” regarding CCA. Commissioner Bevan Dufty suggested that LAFCo also extend a formal request to Mayor Gavin Newsom to attend. It'll be interesting to see if he does: Clean Power SF is sure to be met with opposition from PG&E, and Newsom has been trumpeting green programs that are administered in partnership with the utility.

On the surface of things, a new spirit of cooperation permeated the April 3 meeting, but there’s still a great deal of skepticism. Eric Brooks, a community stakeholder representing Our City, expressed doubt that the SFPUC would do anything besides continue to delay the CCA program, and suggested that LAFCo pull ahead and award all pending contracts independently of the SFPUC.

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