While almost everyone in San Francisco receives electricity from PG&E, future residents of Hunters Point might realize the longtime dream of public-power aficionados by receiving cheap energy directly from The City.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission could soon approve the prices for electricity at the first residential and retail locations to be built at the site of the shuttered Hunter Point Naval Shipyard. And according to Barbara Hale, an assistant general manager in the SFPUC’s power division, the proposed rates for residential electricity will be about 10 percent cheaper than those provided by PG&E.
The reason the power will be so affordable is that it will come from O’Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley.
“Hydroelectric energy is extremely inexpensive and we are not beholden to shareholders,” SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said.
However, a PG&E spokeswoman said the company offers cheaper rates for low-income households and that such price comparisons are not quite so clear-cut.
“Our rates right now are just as reasonable given the services we offer,” PG&E spokeswoman Christine Cordner said. PG&E’s blend of power comes from hydroelectric dams, natural-gas power plants, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, solar facilities and other sources.
The fact that all The City’s electricity is hydropower is a huge selling point, Hale said.
“We’re 100 percent green,” she said.
However, green is not exactly how the nonprofit group Restore Hetch Hetchy describes The City’s dams, hydroelectric plants, reservoirs, aqueducts, pipelines and transmission lines.
“Hydroelectric power requires the destruction of ecosystems — in this case, one of the most diverse and complex,” nonprofit Executive Director Michael Marshall said.
At this point, Hetch Hetchy hydropower is only proposed for Phase 1 of the Hunters Point redevelopment, which could include up to 1,600 homes and 300,000 square feet of retail. But if the SFPUC’s first attempt to provide power directly to residents is successful, it will retain the right to power the remaining 702 acres.
The commission is scheduled to vote on the decision Feb. 8.