LAFCo and SFPUC joint meeting: The clock is ticking

Pub date September 28, 2009
WriterRebecca Bowe
SectionPolitics Blog

By Rebecca Bowe

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In the next few years, San Francisco residents will have the opportunity to switch to electricity that is publicly owned, more environmentally friendly, and either the same price or cheaper than power supplied by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. — if all goes according to plan.

That’s turning into a big “if.”

At a joint meeting held between the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) last Friday, LAFCo chair Sup. Ross Mirkarimi tried his best to start a fire under everyone’s rear. Clean Power SF, a public power program that will supplant PG&E in the city, had better get into gear without any foot-dragging or hesitation, Mirkarimi warned.

What’s the hurry? A proposed, PG&E-backed statewide ballot measure has cast a pall over Clean Power SF and other municipalities’ efforts at crafting public power alternatives, or Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs.

The PG&E-backed ballot measure would require 66 percent of voter approval before any local government could spend so much as a dime establishing a CCA, effectively creating an insurmountable hurdle. If successful, the ballot measure would snuff out any PG&E competition before it even caught on. The utility is poised to spend millions collecting signatures and pushing it through, and it has until Dec. 21 to gather the 694,354 signatures needed to place it on the ballot next year.