Newsom Reiterates Opposition
to Renewable Energy Measure

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Politics

Tagged: , , ,

Published on July 23, 2008 with 12 Comments

By Luke Thomas

July 22, 2008

Mayor Gavin Newsom today confirmed his opposition to a November ballot measure that would, if approved by voters, advance San Francisco to a 100 percent clean renewable energy portfolio by 2040.

“I don’t support the public power initiative,” Newsom responded to Fog City Journal inquiry.

Defying expectations that he understands the severity of global climate change, Newsom said he has spoken “to real people on the streets” to arrive at his position. “I haven’t met one person who says ‘my gosh, boy, you really need to take over the power system in San Francisco’.”

Newsom, who maintains close ties with PG&E and is exploring a run for Governor said, “this is the wrong time” for “a public power initiative to take over PG&E” despite climate change warnings echoed by former Vice President Al Gore and PG&E’s fossil-fuel-heavy energy portfolio.

“I think it’s rather cynical way of branding it, ‘The Clean Energy Act’,” Newsom said.

Citing a recent speech by Gore, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who authored the ballot measure, warned Friday PG&E would spend “millions” to defeat any perceived threat to its monopoly.

“Al Gore just delivered a helluva speech two days ago,” Mirkarimi said, “which everyone is talking about, that this country is able to convert to renewables – a hundred percent renewable in the next ten years.”

“As long as PG&E’S there, that’ll never happen,” Mirkarimi added. “At this rate, PG&E will only abide by the bare minimums, the federal minimums, as stipulated by the Bush administration, and that is 20 percent renewable by 2017, and that is just god-awful.”

The legislation has the support of environmental and social justice organizations including the Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, ACORN, the San Francisco Green Party, the League of Young Voters, Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice, State Assemblymember Mark Leno, Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Aaron Peskin, Tom Ammiano, Gerardo Sandoval, Bevan Dufty, Sophie Maxwell, Chris Daly, former San Francisco Public Utilities Executive Director Susan Leal, San Francisco School Board President Mark Sanchez and other civic leaders.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • Brian Wallace

    In an article, “Why a MUD is a Bad Idea,” Darren Seaton observes that “while a few municipal utilities do enjoy lower rates than what San Francisco customers get … many others have had to drastically increase rates because of the current energy crisis. The ones with lower rates were formed years ago. They either own their own generation facilities or have locked in long-term contracts for low-cost electricity. A MUD, per se, does not mean lower rates.”

    To read more, click on:

    http://www.sfaa.org/0104seaton.html

    Clean Energy Act? Mayor Newsom was correct when he called the title of the initiative a “rather cynical way of branding.” He went on to add, “Let’s call it what it is, it’s a public power initiative to take over PG&E … who are by any objective standards doing more than any other utility in the United States of America [to reduce greenhouse emissions].”

  • paulhogarth

    * It is not a takeover of PG&E, it is a push for 100% clean, renewable energy.

    * The goals for 100% renewable energy are far less ambitious than what Al Gore has called for — and Nancy Pelosi has endorsed.

    * If Newsom’s right that PG&E is the best vehicle to move beyond fossil fuels, they will be the vehicle. However, when on the same day PG&E announces a $850-million carbon-based plant a few miles from San Francisco it might look ridiculous

    * The right-wing talking points against San Francisco government being able to get anything done is being sent by the Mayor’s own chief consultant.

    Why is Gavin Newsom trying to make Al Gore cry?

  • Matt Stewart

    Newsom should wipe that fucking smirk off his face. It’s George W. Bushesque … smug fuck.

  • milkcluber

    If Newsom thinks that is a cynical title for this ballot measure, how does he feel about calling a measure “Let’s Work Together” aimed at defeating any requirement that the mayor attend a Board of Supervisors meeting so that they can work together?

  • brookse32

    The San Francisco Clean Energy Act is -exactly- the right name for this measure. It does not create a MUD at all. It simply directs the SF Public Utilities Commission to complete a study on the best way for San Francisco to get to 100% clean electricity in three decades. While community ownership and management is an option, it’s not a requirement at all. The key is simply to figure out the best way to reach 100% and then do it!

    As to PG&E, just look at its record. The ice caps are melting, California is literally burning, and PG&E nevertheless is seeking to build -more- globe warming, toxin emitting natural gas power plants. Worse yet PG&E only has a paltry 13% renewable energy mix and has admitted it’s not even going to meet the legally -required- state mandate of 20% by 2010.

    With a record like that from our private utility, San Francisco taking control if its own energy future looks like a pretty damned good idea.

    Eric Brooks

  • MannyOrtez

    What Gavin Say… Eric Jaye… uh… already said.

    I like the grin on Ballard’s face when Gav unloads the “You mean the public power initiative?” Ooo, good one, guys. Fuckin Rovian bullshitters.

  • hillaryhell

    Since we are being cynical now could we ask Newsom if this means the Gettys still have their money in oil?

  • WhoSez

    This from the same man who left for a weekend in Hawaii the day after a tragic oil spill in the bay? He’s fashioning himself after Arnold and it puts a bitter taste in my mouth.

    BTW – I will have to remember that the mayor would like people to address him as “Boy”. I thought only HIllary, Diane and Nancy got to do that.

  • http://thepriceofuranium.com AnnieGarrison

    Last year I had solar panels installed on the roof of my flat because I couldn’t stand to hear one more horror story about death, disease, and disability caused in the indigenous world, from the Navajo Nation to the Central African nation of Niger. (Remember the source of the 300 lbs. or yellow cake uranium that was not smuggled to Saddam Hussein used to justify starting the Iraq War. That was Niger, isolated and largely forgotten Central African Niger, France’s national uranium mine for 40 years, now subject to equal opportunity imperialism.)

    Last week PG&E pocket the $500 worth of electricity, in excess of what I had used, that I had gone way into debt to generate on my roof. PG&E has absolutely no shame.

  • http://thepriceofuranium.com AnnieGarrison

    I meant “pocketed,” ‘ ‘Scuse the typo. But a year after the installaqtion, on my “true-up date,” PG&E banked the $500 of electricity I had generated on my roof and put into the grid rather than squandering myself.

    Again, our local power monopoly has absolutely no shame. And PG&E CEO Peter Darbee stated, in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, in December, that “the U.S. future is nuclear.”

  • sonomakid

    Guys I’ve been doing a little research and this hate mongering is gonna cost the city by the bay a bit more than you think. First off the 4 billion dollar cost to buy up all of PG&E’s assets in a time when the budget is facing a critical deficit. Second a loss of 2 million dollars in revenue generated by the taxes that PG&E pays. I couldn’t care less about the mayor and his stupidity. I couldn’t care less about PG&E and how this would affect them. The fact is the rates will go up, and taxes will go up. The city doesn’t have the money to run the power grid the way it is currently run, and the deficit is getting bigger. What’s gonna happen to our power if they take over? I challenge anyone to find some facts that point to the opposite of what Ijust stated. Higher rates, taxes, and less reliable grid. Can the city afford to sink the amount of money our local power junkies can into the grid? It takes money to provide power, of that I am sure. We shall see. All I am asking is for a little research before we all jump on the hate wagon.

  • http://www.450architects.com Jairo Guadian

    Sonomakid,

    I agree with you, we should do research “before we all jump on the hate wagon.” In fact, Mirkarimi’s proposal asks for research, not an immediate takeover. It is difficult to get a clear idea of the amendment because opposing parties have started the “hate tag” game.

    Let’s face it, if Mirkarimi is being cynical in sugarcoating the proposal, which for the record I do not think so since it is but a proposal, then we should also question’s Newsom interest in keeping good ties with PG&E.

    If Mirkarimi is wrong, I would like to hear it from reliable scientist who will look at up-to-date generation systems and SF feasibility to own its power.