Mayor Ed Lee is far from singing the praises about San Francisco’s long-in-the-making public power program, which could launch this summer if it clears the approval process.
Lee said during an editorial board meeting with The SF Examiner earlier this month that while he’s open to the idea of public power, he does not think the program, known as CleanPowerSF, is financially sound.
“I have concerns about this particular proposal because of the financial risk involved,” Lee said.
CleanPowerSF, which would be run by Shell Energy North America, would offer consumers the choice of paying extra for electricity derived from 100 percent renewable sources instead of from PG&E, which gathers about 16 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
For the average residential customer, monthly bills would increase by $7 to $15. Customers would automatically be enrolled in CleanPowerSF and they would have to opt out to remain with PG&E.
The program launch would cost The City $19.5 million, which includes a $15 million payout to Shell if CleanPowerSF is terminated before the 4½-year contract expires. And $4 million would sit in a reserve account to “mitigate potential program risks.”
“I just think both timing as well as the financial package being presented is not conducive to fiscal responsibility,” Lee said.
That means the program will be a tough sell for Supervisor David Campos, who is the most outspoken proponent of CleanPowerSF.
Campos said he is looking forward to talking with Lee about the program.
“We are approaching [CleanPowerSF] in a very responsible way,” Campos said, adding that “the fiscally responsible thing to do is to have an alternative to PG&E” and “in the end the program will pay for itself.”
The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is expected to vote on the proposal in February. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission approved the program Dec. 13.