By Rebecca Bowe
"The war with PG&E over clean energy is now fully on folks."
That's what local public power activist Eric Brooks had to say in a widely distributed email to alert green-power advocates that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has started a smear campaign against San Francisco's community-choice aggregation program, CleanPowerSF.
A “coalition” backed by PG&E recently sent glossy brochures to San Franciscan's mailboxes, and launched a Web site called CommonSenseSF.com. Based on the information provided, it was unclear who, besides PG&E, the coalition members are.
The intent of CleanPowerSF is to reduce the city's overall greenhouse gas emissions by offering San Franciscans the choice to use 51 percent green power supplied through a program administered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, instead of buying power exclusively from PG&E, whose electricity sources are primarily fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.
PG&E often mentions climate change in its ads, but the topic doesn't come up on either the mailer or the Web site. Instead, the message focuses on proposed exit fees that consumers would have to pay if they decided to go back to PG&E after the close of a two-month CCA opt-out period. It calls San Francisco's CCA -- one of the most dramatic attempts at community-wide greenhouse-gas reduction that any U.S. city has taken on -- a "costly energy scheme."
The campaign’s Web site notes that the information is provided by the “Coalition for Reliable and Affordable Electricity, a coalition of concerned consumers, small businesses, labor, community organizations and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.”
A representative from Townsend, Raimundo, Besler and Usher, a Sacramento-based PR firm, confirmed that the Coalition for Reliable and Affordable Electricity is one of its clients.
The person who is handling that client, we were told, is Bob Pence. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Robert Lee Pence is listed as the proponent of a statewide ballot initiative that would impose a two-thirds majority vote requirement before CCA could be implemented.
The mailer includes a form that members of the public can send in, postage-free, to sign up for an alert when the Board of Supervisors votes on CCA. The address the postcards would be sent to appears to be a mail drop at Mailboxes Etc.