Energy

Why is the Potrero Power Plant still going strong?

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The Potrero Power Plant, a longtime source of pollution and health concerns for residents of San Francisco’s southeastern neighborhoods, is slated for partial closure once the Trans Bay Cable begins transmitting electricity into the city.

The Trans Bay Cable is an undersea cord that will transmit 400 megawatts of power underneath the San Francisco Bay from power plants in the Pittsburg / Antioch area. Last we heard, from a January article in the San Francisco Examiner, the project was running a full month ahead of schedule. Read more »

Willie Brown to speak in favor of Prop 16 tomorrow

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A public forum will be held tomorrow at the California Public Utilities Commission to discuss Proposition 16, the ballot initiative that PG&E is bankrolling in order to require a two-thirds majority vote before any municipality can become an electricity provider.

The Guardian has received word that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will be speaking in support of Prop. 16. We initially heard that he would be speaking on behalf of the California Chamber of Commerce, so we placed a call with the COC to verify whether that was the case. That prompted Robin Swanson, spokesperson for the Yes on 16 Campaign, to call and clarify that Brown is speaking on his own behalf. “He’s just speaking in support of Prop 16,” she said, speculating that maybe he was interested in the issue due to his own experience in local government.

Willie Brown formerly worked for PG&E providing “consulting services,” according to a 2007 annual report. Read more »

PG&E’s laughable Prop 16: Who needs friends when you’ve got $35 million?

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Last month, when the Guardian sent an intern to cover a debate between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesperson David Townsend and California Sen. Mark Leno, the reporter was ejected from the event at Townsend’s request.

I figured I’d be immune from such nonsense when I ventured to the state capitol yesterday for a joint informational hearing about Proposition 16, the ballot initiative that PG&E has bankrolled for the June ballot for the purpose of extinguishing competition in its service territory. The initiative would establish a two-thirds majority vote before any municipal electricity program could get up and running, and its sole sponsor is PG&E.

But just after I snapped a photo of Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano chuckling sardonically at a PG&E executive who had mistakenly referred to the ballot initiative as “Prop 13,” a guard swooped in and ordered me to stop photographing and turn off my voice recorder. Read more »

Hey Matier & Ross -- PG&E is no security blanket

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Today’s San Francisco Chronicle piece by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross brought to mind a Pacific Gas & Electric Co.-sponsored Web site that was set up to undermine the city’s fledgling Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program.

That’s because one of the key points in the story was that San Francisco’s CCA could result in higher customer bills. According to the Chronicle:

"A 2007 city controller's report concluded that a typical residential utility bill under this type of plan could go up by 24 percent if only half the purchased energy is green. The cost would almost certainly go even higher if the city went totally green, the report said."

This city controller’s report is referenced on the PG&E-funded Web site, too, and this supposed 24 percent increase was splashed prominently across colorful outsized postcards that the PG&E-sponsored “Common Sense Coalition” sent to businesses and residences throughout the city last December. However, San Francisco’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), a city commission responsible for setting CCA in motion, maintains that the claim is misleading.

Why?

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Berkeley's mayor pushes anti-PG&E protester

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At least, that's what Luke Thomas is reporting in Fog City Journal. He's got photos, too.Read more »

L.A. Times writer takes on PG&E initiative

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Los Angeles Times writer Michael Hiltzik weighs in again on the PG&E initiative, which is now on the ballot as Prop. 16.

He argues that the deck is stacked in PG&E's favor here -- the utility can spend all the money it wants -- $30 million, $40 million, whatever -- and the public agencies that will be hurt by the measure have no ability to fight back since they can't spend taxpayer money that way PG&E can spend ratepayer money.

His conclusion:Read more »

Let's push Jerry Brown on PG&E initiative

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When the state Legislature approved the law allowing cities to create local public power co-ops, the bill specifically barred private utilities from interfering. So it's easy to argue that Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s ballot initiative to squash public power is, in fact, direct interference.

After all, the measure would create an almost insurmountable obstacle to creating community choice aggregation.Read more »

Black History Month in SF kicks off with dancing, future visions

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By the time I made it to the 2010 Black History Month kickoff ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, on Friday, Feb. 5, California Public Utilities Commissioner Tim Simon was talking about how the African American community can make sure it doesn’t get left on the sidelines in future.

Simon advised folks to know their resources, community and strategy to ensure that people of color are included in the burgeoning Green economy—a topic in keeping with the history-of-black-economic-empowerment theme.

“And I want to encourage all of us to celebrate the month of Black History and teach it to our children, because we could lose this generation,” Smith said, noting that just three blocks away from City Hall in the Western Addition/Filmore, “young men talk about and celebrate it when they reach 25 years old.”

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