San Francisco Accelerates Clean Energy Goal to 50% by 2020

By Lizzie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday set a new goal for San Francisco — that at least 50 percent of the city’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. That’s 10 years ahead of the target the state has set for itself. 

“At a time when the federal government is rolling back environmental regulations, we are pushing forward in San Francisco, setting one of the most ambitious clean energy targets of any major city in the U.S.,” Lee said. 

San Francisco now funnels electricity through four services: Pacific Gas and Electric Co., CleanPowerSF, Hetch Hetchy Power and direct access providers, where large buildings buy energy from third parties. A total of 44 percent comes from renewable sources, so the city needs an increase of six percentage points to meet its goal.

The city will receive the bulk of that energy through CleanPowerSF, the city-run green energy program that began in May after years of political gridlock and resistance from PG&E. About 40 percent of the electricity provided by the program already comes from renewable sources and will continue to increase. The current mix is 5 percent higher than the original goal of 35 percent, and 10 percent more renewable than energy provided by PG&E. By 2019, CleanPowerSF is projected to provide 400 megawatts of power — enough electricity to power 320,000 homes and businesses.

The program works much like a buyers club for energy. The city purchases electricity for residents, while PG&E delivers that energy on its electrical grid. CleanPowerSF is operating at 60 megawatts and provides electricity to 75,000 residents and businesses. More San Francisco neighborhoods will be auto-enrolled over the next three years.