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Recap: Our City Our Power Webinar

San Francisco skyline
  • Donald Pollitt II

If you missed the recent SFPUC-hosted webinar on “Our City. Our Power. The Growing Movement for Public Power in San Francisco” fear not – we've got you covered!  

Our City. Our Power. is San Francisco’s effort to acquire PG&E’s local electric assets and expand public power to serve all of the City.  

The SFPUC plays a pivotal role in delivering clean, reliable, and affordable energy to the city. However, the persistent hurdles posed by PG&E, the monopoly grid owner, continue to impede our ability to deliver our public power services.  

Luckily, there’s a better option: full public power. Here's a quick recap of the recent Our City Our Power webinar to bring you up to speed. You can also watch the recorded webinar here.

Our City. Our Power. webinar
Watch the zoom recording of the webinar.

Part 1: Why Public Power?

  • The necessity for public power in San Francisco stems from the urgent need to control our energy destiny, free from the constraints of PG&E.
  • As the climate crisis escalates, PG&E's interference only exacerbates the situation.
  • By taking public ownership of the local electricity grid, we can ensure clean, reliable, and affordable energy for all San Franciscans.  This would mean purchasing, owning, and operating our local power grid.
  • Public power is not new. Today there are more than 2,000 public power utilities in the United States that serve 54 million people. Right here in the Bay Area, many municipalities have been providing public power to their communities for decades like Palo Alto, Santa Clara and Alameda.
  • Public power utilities, unlike their for-profit counterparts, reinvest revenues back into the community, leading to more reliable and affordable service.

Part 2: Challenges with PG&E Locally

  • PG&E's exorbitant rate hikes, service issues, and prioritization of shareholder profits over customer needs have led to dissatisfaction among consumers.
  • Since 2018, PG&E has obstructed over 135 local public projects in San Francisco. Obstruction can range from unreasonable requirements, sky-high costs, and delays caused by PG&E unresponsiveness.
  • These obstructions have direct negative impacts on the community and have blocked progress on some of the City’s most critical priorities, including affordable housing projects, schools, parks, health clinics, and important infrastructure projects.
  • In the past 5 years, PG&E’s obstruction has cost San Francisco taxpayers $35 million dollars  

Part 3: What We're Doing

  • Our objective is clear: to establish full public power in San Francisco, we need independence from PG&E.
  • San Francisco has always had the right under the California constitution to operate its own public power grid.
  • San Francisco’s leaders have come together around our shared values of transparency and local control. Public power is supported by our Mayor, the Board of Supervisors and many of our local and state elected leaders.
  • The purchase of PG&E’s grid assets will be paid for through low-cost, long-term revenue bonds that are repaid using our customers' payments for service. San Francisco would see the benefits of public power without impacting tax dollars used for critical City priorities like affordable housing and public safety.
  • In 2021, San Francisco asked the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to determine a fair price of PG&E’s grid assets through a public Valuation Proceeding. Absent further delays, a CPUC decision is expected sometime in 2025.
  • In parallel, San Francisco’s Planning Department is conducting a thorough environmental review to ensure that the sale will not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts.  And the SFPUC is already planning for how we will scale up and transition from PG&E service.  

Part 4: Take Action

The journey towards public power is a collective endeavor, and your support is crucial. Here's how you can join the movement:  

  1. Sign up for updates: Get the latest developments about public power directly in your inbox.
  2. Endorse our campaign: Join fellow community members in advocating for local control of our energy future.
  3. Invite us to present: Spread awareness by hosting a presentation on public power for your community group or organization.
  4. Follow us on social media: Stay connected and engaged with our campaign on social platforms.
  5. Inform your elected officials: Make your voice heard! Reach out to your local representatives and express your support for public power.

Stay informed. Stay empowered. Together, let's power San Francisco forward.

Because – It's Our City and Our Power!