Board of Supervisors Votes Unanimously to Power San Francisco's Downtown with 100 Percent Renewable Electricity
Board of Supervisors approves Mayor London Breed’s legislation to require large commercial buildings to use renewable or greenhouse-gas free hydroelectricity
San Francisco, CA — The Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to approve Mayor London N. Breed’s legislation to transition private commercial buildings of 50,000 square feet and larger to 100 percent renewable electricity. Almost half of San Francisco’s citywide emissions come from buildings, and half of those emissions come from the commercial sector. San Francisco has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions 36 percent below 1990 levels.
The new clean electricity requirement is the first of its kind in the nation. The law will reduce emissions from the City’s largest commercial buildings by an additional 21 percent to accelerate San Francisco’s drive towards 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. The legislation was co-sponsored by Supervisors Vallie Brown, Ahsha Safaí, Aaron Peskin, Matt Haney, Rafael Mandelman, and Hillary Ronen.
“We must continue to lead the way in the fight against climate change, and we know that the building sector is a major contributor of climate-changing greenhouse gases,” said Mayor Breed. “Transitioning our large buildings to 100 percent renewable energy is an important step towards making San Francisco an even more sustainable city and continuing the progress we have made with CleanPowerSF.”
The legislation calls for the City’s largest commercial buildings to procure 100 percent renewable electricity from any of the City’s electricity providers by 2022. Then, starting in 2024, additional buildings will be subject to the requirement, eventually encompassing all commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. The requirement is currently phased-in chronologically to ensure adequate renewable electricity is available for procurement:
- 2022 – commercial buildings over 500,000 square feet;
- 2024 – commercial buildings over 250,000 square feet; and,
- 2030 – commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet.
The legislation is part of the Mayor’s vision of an “all-electric City” in which 100 percent renewable electricity replaces the use of fossil fuels in the building and transportation sectors. San Francisco’s emissions primarily come from the transportation and the building sectors, with each sector responsible for 46 and 44 percent of the City’s emissions, respectively. Cross-sector electrification will be necessary to achieve deep greenhouse gas emissions reductions and Mayor Breed’s Global Climate Action Summit commitment for net zero emissions by 2050.
“When we think greenhouses gases, we’re right to think cars but we also need to think buildings,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown. “Thanks to CleanPowerSF, we’re in a great position to generate and deliver the renewable electricity supply we need to zero out our emissions. I’m proud to have been a part of the team that first introduced CleanPowerSF, and to continue that work with this and other key climate legislation today.”
The City’s municipal buildings are already powered by greenhouse gas-free hydroelectricity through Hetch Hetchy Power. To accelerate San Francisco’s transition to an all-electric City, in April 2019 Mayor London Breed also announced that she is directing the Department of the Environment to convene a public-private task force to examine how best to electrify all of San Francisco’s buildings. The task force is expected to produce a decarbonization roadmap for buildings in early 2020. In July, Supervisor Brown announced that she will introduce legislation to eliminate the use of natural gas in all new municipal building projects and major renovations, in order to further decarbonizing City-owned buildings.
“Requiring San Francisco’s largest buildings to be powered by clean electricity is the next step towards an ‘all-electric,’ net zero emissions city,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “I want to thank Mayor Breed for bringing forward this legislation and for her unwavering commitment to a clean energy future for San Francisco. More clean electricity on our grid is how we make that future a reality today.”
Today, all of the City’s major electricity providers, Hetch Hetchy Power, CleanPowerSF, and PG&E, provide 100 percent renewable electricity products. Hetch Hetchy is the City’s oldest provider of clean electricity and is the most affordable. CleanPowerSF, the City’s new clean energy program, also offers SuperGreen, a 100 percent renewable electricity at more cost-effective price points than PG&E. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) operates both CleanPowerSF and Hetch Hetchy Power, and serves 80% of the city’s electric load.
“For more than a century, we have provided clean energy to San Francisco, are we are excited about expanding those efforts to meet our City’s renewable energy goals,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “The SFPUC is proud to take part in an effort that will address our climate change concerns while providing our businesses with safe, reliable and affordable power services.”
“Cities across the country continue to look to San Francisco as the cutting edge of the clean energy transition,” said Jodie Van Horn, Director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign. “This legislation strategically narrows in on large commercial buildings—which are some of the city’s major energy users and sources of emissions—and is the latest example of how bold climate action is a top city priority. Mayor Breed’s continued leadership building toward the city’s 100% renewable electricity goal will help the city become a cleaner, healthier, more equitable place for all San Franciscans.”
The Mayor’s legislation complements similar building programs like the City’s auditing and energy benchmarking program for existing buildings, Better Roofs ordinance, the EV Readiness ordinance, and the Mayor’s proposal to expand the number of EV charging stations in San Francisco parking facilities. The San Francisco Department of the Environment, in collaboration with the SFPUC, will administer the new program.