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Facts and Myths about CleanPowerSF

I heard that I’m going to be forced to join the program!

AB 117, the state law establishing and defining local energy in California, does mandate that customers be automatically enrolled in the local power authority that is formed in their area.

Enrollment will take place in waves, however, starting first with the neighborhoods that showed the most enthusiasm when surveyed.  No low-income CARE customers will be automatically enrolled in the initial rounds.

Customers who wish to continue with the monopoly utility company may choose to opt out at no charge.  Any information about a fee is extremely outdated and designed to mislead.


I heard that my electric bill is going to go way, way up!

Any information about your bill has been false and designed to mislead, because the rates CleanPowerSF will charge are still yet to be set!

On August 13th, 2013, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is voting to set the maximum allowable rate at 11.5 cents/kWh.  Even at this rate, the switch from dirty and radioactive PG&E power to 100% clean energy would be less than $6 for the average customer.

The most recent actual rates suggested by SFPUC staff have been even lower—in the range of 9-10 cents/kWh, the same price as PG&E’s dirty power.  CleanPowerSF will provide a competitive price to PG&E for a far, far superior product.  

If and when enrolled, low-income CARE customers will continue to receive a discount on their rate.


I heard the program will hurt the city economically!

CleanPowerSF will be able to provide rates competitive with PG&E, so there is no basis for any assertion of job losses or social service cuts arising from extra expenses for a transition to clean power.

On the contrary, CleanPowerSF’s robust build-out of local renewable energy could create up to 1,500 local jobs a year for ten years!


I heard that Shell is replacing PG&E!  They're a terrible corporation and huge polluter!

When the city put out a call for bids to renewable energy suppliers in 2010 in order to launch CleanPowerSF, Shell Energy North America (SENA) was the only company to respond, and the SFPUC agreed to negotiate a 4 ½-year contract to purchase renewable energy from them.  All energy purchased through SENA will be sourced from unionized, greenhouse gas-free sources in California. 

As environmental and community advocates, we are very uncomfortable with Shell's role in our city’s energy transition, which is why we have insisted that the SFPUC make the contract with SENA as small and temporary as possible.

As a result, SFPUC will only make a small start-up purchase of 20 megawatts of renewable energy from SENA over the 4 ½ years—just 5% of the 400 megawatts of local electricity that will eventually be delivered by CleanPowerSF over the next decade.  

The SFPUC will begin taking over Shell's power management role shortly after the start-up.  Most of the electricity delivered by CleanPowerSF will be directly provided through local solar, wind, and other renewables built right here in San Francisco and the Bay Area.


I’ve read that CleanPowerSF will be based on renewable energy certificates (RECs), and that this isn’t really renewable energy.  What’s up with RECs?

RECs are notes generated when renewable energy is created and may be shuttled around and traded in computers like electrons on the grid.  They are like renewable energy that has been banked, rather than energy created that day.

CleanPowerSF’s contract with SENA will include RECs to help keep customer rates low at the beginning of the program when local generation of cheap renewable energy is just getting off the ground.

The additional revenue that CleanPowerSF earns from selling cheaper power will be poured directly into building out these local solar, wind, and efficiency installations.  Local renewable energy resources will quickly replace the RECs and other renewables purchased from Shell.

For way, way more on RECs, check out this paper.  The use of RECs to kick off local clean energy is discussed on pages 9-10.