Survey shows which San Francisco residents support clean-power program 

click to enlarge A new SFPUC survey tracked district-by-district percentages of ratepayers willing to stick with CleanPowerSF. Click on the map for a larger view. - COURTESY SFPUC CLEANPOWERSF
  • Courtesy SFPUC CleanPowerSF
  • A new SFPUC survey tracked district-by-district percentages of ratepayers willing to stick with CleanPowerSF. Click on the map for a larger view.

A new survey shows which San Francisco neighborhoods are willing to pay more to power their lights, computers and other electrical devices with 100 percent renewable energy.

Those living in the Potrero Hill, Noe Valley, Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods are most willing to remain customers of CleanPowerSF after its pending rollout, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which would administer the program.

The data come as the commission is scheduled to vote today on the program’s “not-to-exceed” rates. For 70 percent of The City’s ratepayers, bills are expected to increase $10.24 to $29.78 per month compared to current PG&E rates.

“Generally, younger, more affluent and more highly educated residents opted for CleanPowerSF’s 100 percent renewable energy option,” Tyrone Jue, SFPUC spokesman, said in reference to the recent survey.

Owners of single-family homes are generally least likely to pay more, with relatively little support in District 11, the Excelsior neighborhood, and in District 7, the neighborhoods west of Twin Peaks, the data show.

If all goes according to plan, the SFPUC will begin auto-enrolling customers in October, targeting areas showing the most support. Jue said that approach would alleviate the risk of “accidental” customers. The plan is to automatically enroll approximately 200,000 ratepayers to end up with the desired 90,000 customers for the beginning phase.

Under state law, community choice aggregation programs such as CleanPowerSF automatically enroll customers, who then must take steps to opt out if they wish to remain with PG&E.

If the rates are approved today, the Board of Supervisors would have 30 days to decide whether to call a hearing to vote on rejecting them, which would take six votes. The board voted 8-3 last year to approve funding for the program, making such a rejection unlikely.

The effort faces tough opposition from PG&E, which is proposing to launch a “green” energy program of its own, and by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245. Union President Hunter Stern said the SFPUC should not rely on the data since the survey was misleading, in part, because the agency never disclosed it would contract with power provider Shell Energy North America.  

A final five-year agreement between the SFPUC and Shell is scheduled to be signed in July. If the program fails, the SFPUC would be on the hook for paying out up to $13.5 million.

 jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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