San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Approves Contract for Dennis Herrera to Serve as General Manager
Herrera, nominated by Mayor Breed, will begin serving as General Manager on November 1
San Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) today approved Dennis Herrera’s contract to serve as the new SFPUC General Manager. Herrera was elected as City Attorney of San Francisco in 2001, and will bring decades of experience serving City residents and advancing environmental policies around clean water and renewable energy through his nationally-recognized office.
Mayor Breed nominated Dennis Herrera to the SFPUC in April, and in June, the SFPUC Commission officially recommended him to serve as the agency’s next General Manager. With the ratification of his contract today by the Commission, Herrera will officially serve as SFPUC General Manager beginning November 1.
“With the Commission approving Dennis Herrera’s contract, I am glad we can now move forward with a new era for the SFPUC,” said Mayor Breed. “Dennis’s long track record of integrity and ethical leadership, as well as his experience leading on issues from civil rights to environmental protection to renewable energy, has demonstrated the type of leadership he will bring to this new role. I am confident that he is the right person at the right time for this job, and I fully expect the SFPUC to continue moving forward programs like CleanPowerSF and our ambitious efforts around public power. I want to thank the Commission and President Sophie Maxwell for their leadership during this process and Dennis Herrera for his willingness to serve.”
“I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work for all of the SFPUC’s ratepayers,” Herrera said. “It’s an honor to have this unique opportunity to face the challenges of our time as the General Manager of the SFPUC. We are in a historic drought fueled by climate change. PG&E’s unsafe and unreliable management of the power grid hampers our ability to meet our climate change goals. Now is the time to make real progress. It’s time to further diversify our water sources, boost our water recycling, deliver a state-of-the-art seismically strong wastewater system, and buy the electric grid in the City so we can provide all San Franciscans with clean, safe, and reliable public power. I want to thank Mayor Breed and the SFPUC Commission for this opportunity. I couldn’t be prouder of the work the City Attorney’s Office has done over the last 20 years, and now I’m ready to join all of the hardworking staff at the SFPUC to meet these challenges together.”
The SFPUC provides retail drinking water and wastewater services to the City of San Francisco, wholesale water to three Bay Area counties, green hydroelectric and solar power to Hetch Hetchy electricity customers, and power to the residents and businesses of San Francisco through the CleanPowerSF program.
“After a thoughtful and deliberative process to select the new General Manger, the Commission looks forward to working with General Manager Herrera to make the SFPUC a model utility of the future, and to tackle the critical issues facing the SFPUC and the state,” said SFPUC Commission President Sophie Maxwell. “We want to express our thanks to Acting General Manager Michael Carlin for his service these past 10 months.”
For nearly two decades, Herrera has been at the forefront of pivotal water, power and sewer issues. He worked to save state ratepayers $1 billion during PG&E’s first bankruptcy in the early 2000s and has been a leading advocate for San Francisco to adopt full public power for years.
In 2009, he reached a key legal agreement with Mirant to permanently close the Potrero Power Plant, San Francisco’s last fossil fuel power plant, and secured $1 million to help address pediatric asthma in nearby communities.
In 2018, Herrera defeated a years-long attempt to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the crown jewel of the SFPUC system, which provides emissions-free hydroelectric power and clean drinking water to 2.7 million Bay Area residents. He is also leading efforts before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the courts to fight PG&E’s predatory tactics to grow its corporate monopoly by illegally overcharging public projects like schools, homeless shelters, and affordable housing to connect to the energy grid.
Herrera sued the five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies in the world in 2017, alleging they knew for decades that their products caused global warming, and yet they deliberately deceived consumers about their products’ known dangers while continuing to promote and profit off them. The lawsuit, currently ongoing, seeks billions of dollars for infrastructure to protect San Francisco against sea-level rise caused by the fossil fuel industry’s products, including large portions of the SFPUC’s combined sewer and stormwater system.
Herrera was first elected as City Attorney in December 2001, and went on to build what The American Lawyer magazine hailed as “one of the most aggressive and talented city law departments in the nation.”
Herrera’s office was involved in every phase of the legal war to achieve marriage equality, from early 2004 to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark rulings in June 2013. Herrera was also the first to challenge former President Trump’s attempts to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities. He repeatedly defeated the Trump administration in different cases as it sought to punish sanctuary cities, deny basic benefits like food stamps to legal immigrants, and discriminate in health care against women, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable groups. He brought groundbreaking consumer protection cases against payday lenders, credit card arbitrators and others. He also brought pioneering legal cases to help young people, including allowing public school students to safely return to in-person education and blocking an attempt to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation.