San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Officially Recommends Dennis Herrera to Lead Department
Herrera, nominated by Mayor Breed, would serve as the next General Manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) President Sophie Maxwell announced today that SFPUC has officially recommended City Attorney Dennis Herrera to serve as the agency’s next 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 through his nationally-recognized office.
Mayor Breed nominated Dennis Herrera to the SFPUC in April 2021, and since then the SFPUC has been undergoing review process led by the 5 member oversight commission. The Commission’s nomination process, which consisted of meetings with both internal and external stakeholders, as well as a survey to all active employees, identified qualities and challenges for the new General Manager. Following initial discussions and collaboration with employees, the five-member commission that oversees the SFPUC interviewed City Attorney Herrera – covering a wide range of topics including: challenges facing the SFPUC, management style, public integrity, the environment, short- and long-term goals, collaboration, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and communication.
“Dennis Herrera has been a champion of this City across a wide range of issues from civil rights to protecting our environment, and I am proud to have nominated him for this critical leadership position,” said Mayor Breed. “I appreciate the thorough work that President Sophie Maxwell and the Commission members put into this process, and I’m glad we are moving onto the next step. Dennis is the right leader for the hard-working employees of the SFPUC and this City."
“The Commission looks forward to working with Dennis Herrera and continuing on our mission of making this agency an outstanding utility of the future,” said SFPUC President Sophie Maxwell.”
Throughout the nomination process, the five-member commission was impressed by Herrera’s understanding of issues facing SFPUC, his 20 years of ground-breaking leadership on issues of importance to San Franciscans, 20 years of department management, commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, commitment to staff support and collaboration, and enthusiasm and energy for the road ahead. Mayor Breed has accepted the recommendation from the SFPUC. Next steps are for the Commission to come to contract terms with Herrera before the appointment becomes official.
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.
“San Francisco’s public utility deserves innovative and decisive leadership,” Herrera said. “I am ready to stand up for ratepayers and meet the challenge of responding to climate change. I look forward to leading San Francisco’s public utility in partnership with the Commission and getting to know the hard-working employees who serve the department. I am committed to ensuring that all San Franciscans have clean and reliable water, sustainable and affordable public power and a public utility that they can be proud of. My approach to government has been, and will continue to be, with a focus on diversity and equity. I want to thank Mayor Breed and the Commission for their support. I am honored to have this unique opportunity to face the challenges of the future as the General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.”
“It has been a privilege to serve San Francisco as the City Attorney for nearly 20 years,” Herrera said. “We advanced equality for all, stood up for civil rights, supported affordable housing at every turn, gave our children better opportunities to grow and thrive, and took innovative steps to protect the environment. We met challenges head on and stood up for what was right.”
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 an 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 is also currently suing the top five investor-owned fossil fuel companies in the world. The lawsuit, filed in 2017, seeks billions of dollars for infrastructure to protect San Francisco against sea-level rise caused by their 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 protect youth, including blocking an attempt to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation and getting e-cigarettes off San Francisco store shelves until they received required FDA approval.