Nearly 70 Percent of San Francisco Voters Support City Providing Power for Residents and Businesses
New poll shows 68 percent of respondents in favor of San Francisco favor building on success of CleanPowerSF program to provide power to the City
San Francisco, CA — Nearly 70 percent of respondents support San Francisco providing power to City residents and businesses, according to a new survey carried out by a third-party polling firm.
Following an announcement in January that PG&E would seek bankruptcy protection, Mayor Breed, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and other City leaders have been exploring ways to potentially acquire PG&E infrastructure. Mayor Breed directed the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to conduct a feasibility study on the near and long-term impacts of PG&E’s bankruptcy, and to identify all possible options to ensure continuity for San Francisco power customers, including the potential acquisition of the company’s assets. The initial findings from the feasibility study will be released later this month.
Of the 435 residents queried in the poll, 68 percent were in favor of the SFPUC delivering public power to the City, citing more affordable rates, increased accountability and better service as reasons for their support. Many residents noted SFPUC’s 100-year history of reliably delivering greenhouse gas-free hydroelectricity from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir as an additional reason for their backing of the plan.
“These results show that San Franciscans believe we can reliably provide power for our residents and businesses. The City has consistently demonstrated the ability to provide affordable water, power, and sewer services, and with PG&E’s bankruptcy we may have an opportunity to better secure San Francisco’s energy future,” said Mayor Breed. “The success of our CleanPowerSF program has laid the groundwork for potentially acquiring assets from PG&E, and we are exploring that option.”
The poll was conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, an opinion research firm. The respondents were all registered San Francisco voters who were contacted via landline, cell phone and text messages. The survey was conducted in English, Cantonese and Spanish.
The objective of the poll was to gather feedback on public power options for San Francisco residents, and to move forward strategically with plans based on the priorities of the respondents. In the poll, affordability, cleaner energy and safety were listed as the three most important considerations—objectives that the SFPUC will prioritize when making recommendations to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors regarding acquisition and other options.
“PG&E has been putting profits before public safety for years. Their track record is clear, from transformers blowing up in San Francisco to the deadly explosion in San Bruno to the utter devastation of the Northern California wildfires,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “We have a duty to San Francisco residents to thoroughly explore whether the City can provide power that is cheaper, cleaner and safer. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”
After hearing arguments both supporting and opposing the plan, 68 percent of the respondents were in favor of SFPUC acquiring the assets, accounting for the final tally of the poll.
“The poll results clearly show that the majority of San Franciscans are ready to embrace public power,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who sponsored last year's Proposition A: Clean, Safe & Affordable Energy Act. “What began with overwhelming support for Prop A last year -- which enabled the City to begin local build-out of our own clean energy infrastructure -- has expanded to widespread support for the acquisition and operation of PG&E’s existing utilities by and for the public. San Franciscans support clean, green and affordable energy and they trust the City to do it.”
“We have a proven track record of delivering power to this City for more than 100 years,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “If our City leaders and our residents want us to move in the direction of acquiring electric infrastructure, we have confidence in our ability to deliver public power to San Francisco.”
SFPUC is currently carrying out its largest and last major enrollment of CleanPowerSF, the City’s community choice energy program. By the end of April, more than 360,000 customers will be enrolled in the program, which offers cleaner energy options at rates that are below the costs of PG&E. Combined with the hydroelectricity provided by the Hetch Hetchy regional system—which powers Muni vehicles, City Hall and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, among others—SFPUC will meet 80 percent of the electricity demand in the City, following the complete rollout of CleanPowerSF.