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Opposition Grows to San Francisco’s Green Energy Plans

Linda Hardesty

Electricity rates for about 90,000 San Francisco ratepayers could almost double if the San Francisco Board of Supervisors goes forward with a deal for Shell Oil to provide 100 percent renewable energy for the city, according to NBC Bay Area.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has strongly criticized the scheme and even launched an online campaign “Stop the Shell Shock” where ratepayers can enter their kilowatt hours to calculate how much more they’ll have to pay.

PUC financial directors predict a maximum rate of .15 cents per kilowatt hour, about double the current rate of .0788 cents per kilowatt hour based on a report prepared for the city’s Rate Fairness Board in late January.

However, CleanPowerSF, the group within the PUC responsible for spearheading the deal with Shell Oil, says there are a lot of other line items on a utility bill – like taxes, fees and transmission and distribution items – that will not change, so it’s inaccurate to say the entire bill will double. CleanPowerSF argues that sometimes customers do have to pay more if they want to be “green.”

If the San Francisco Board of Supervisors moves forward with the renewable energy plan, Pacific Gas and Electric will choose 90,000 customers to participate. But any customer can opt out without a fee if they so choose. PG&E will continue to handle all energy distribution, transmission, billing and maintenance of power lines for San Francisco customers, according to NBC Bay Area.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that PG&E, itself, has opposed the measure. In the coming weeks, the commission is scheduled to vote on a threshold for rates and then finalize a five-year contract with Shell to purchase the program’s energy.

IBEW also questions what kind of energy Shell will be providing. It’s unclear whether the energy will come from wind and solar or from biomass fuel, which IBEW says isn’t that “green.”



4 comments on “Opposition Grows to San Francisco’s Green Energy Plans

  1. Chris is exactly correct. We need to move away from the big grid concept for residential developments and think local grids.
    To answer his question why? Money and control!
    Double the rate as cost of electricity is pretty extreme, 25% additional is one thing, but 100% increase…smells like profit is included in the mix.

  2. this article is grossly misinformed based upon propaganda from opponents of the sf proposal. The 100% increase figure is only for the energy supply line item fraction the bill; consumers would see far less rate increase, since energy supply is only a fraction of the total bill.

  3. Neighborhhood generated solar from roof tops and parking lots should be the number one energy generation source for these Community Choice Aggregation proposal. In San Diego County the conservative estimate is 7,000 Megawatts from this source. Most of that potential is in category lumped with the highest priority for development (ie, number one in the state “loading order”), energy efficiency in the State energy strategy; so we should be installing solar on top of developed land FIRST, not paying Shell Oil to cover open space and then pipe it in on transmission lines that lose energy, destroy more open space and help feed the investor owned utilities rate base. The latter effect, perversely enough, is yet another obstacle to CCA since it has to be accounted for in the calculations of cost effectiveness for CCA generated energy.

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