City-owned electricity generation works

Photo by Mike Koozmin/SF Newspaper Co.

I remember years ago a loser of a supervisor named Bill Maher tried to make a lame joke in opposition to a public-power measure. "If the city tries to run an electric system," he said, "every time I throw a light switch my toilet would flush."

Ha. Ha. Ha.

But it's a common refrain: We can't even run the Muni on time -- how can we run an electricity system?

Which is why it's worth noting that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Public Works have managed, all on their own, to build successful solar generating facilities -- without contract scandals or any other apparent problems. The School District is happy; when they throw the light switch, the lights turn on -- and the price of electricity is really, really low (far less than half what Pacific Gas and Electric Co. charges), so there's more money for classroom instruction.

This is the future of green energy in San Francisco: Small-scale renewable projects, either owned by the city or financed by the city and placed on residential and commercial rooftops. It's why CleanPowerSF is so important. PG&E is never going to support distributed generation; that kind of project makes PG&E irrelvant and undermines its business model. Once the city has enough generating facilities, it can start buying its own distribution system.

So yeah: Public power works. On a small scale, to be sure, but if the city can build one solar project, it can build more.


One school has solar panels installed on the roof to supplement what it gets from the grid. Just like DIY homeowners do in a weekend.

Tim Redmond's headline: "City-owned electricity generation works".

That's why I like this site so much more than I do the Onion or Funny/Die. Much funnier IMHO.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

than any other district in California. The average is around 60%. SFUSD spends around 45%. So the extra cash (if there is any - highly doubtful there is) will not be spent on "classroom instruction."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

Muni is run in failure mode as a perverse incentive for auto use.

Muni is run in failure mode as a means to punish and disincentivize the poor.

Muni is run in failure mode as an example of the government's supposedly inherent incompetence.

Watch out for any project which threatens PG&E's business model. As much promise as may be shown by such, threats may appear from surprising sources.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

SFUSD can hire another consultant or three

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

I think it is capable of working well.

The problem is this: The "City Family" and its huge underfunded pension and healthcare obligations are going to have to be met by the city. And at some point, the "city family" is going to start dipping into monies made off of public power, just like it already does from the General Fund.

Until the "City Family" starts covering more of its own pension costs, I think we should steer clear of any new business ventures in the public sector.

Posted by Troll The XIV on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

If your objective is to support city-owned power, why point to a single installation of solar panels at a single school? Why not point to the cities of Burbank, Glendale, or Pasadena?

Posted by Michael N. Escobar on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

Because they see how badly Muni works and do not want the same bozo's delivering a dangerously combustible product like gas.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 11:23 pm