Goal: Power San Francisco’s Downtown With 100% Renewable Electricity

In our everyday lives we are constantly looking for sources of energy.

Energy for our body, cars, homes and companies.

As important, we look for ways to sustain and renew it.

On a singular planet with a mushrooming population, acquiring and renewing energy is vital.

So what is renewable energy exactly? writer, Johan Bos photo credit

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Globally, there are an estimated 7.7 million jobs associated with the renewable energy industries, with solar photovoltaics being the largest renewable employer.

Renewable energy systems are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper and their share of total energy consumption is increasing.

As of 2019 worldwide, more than two-thirds of all new electricity capacity installed was renewable.

That makes for a very hopeful future. writer, photo credit

The United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a very optimistic view of their responsibility to ensure the viability of renewable energy.

Their mission is to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy.

Their vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.

They speak to that at, “Our nation has abundant solar, water, wind, and geothermal energy resources, and many U.S. companies are developing, manufacturing, and installing cutting-edge, high-tech renewable energy systems.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads a large network of researchers and other partners to deliver innovative technologies that will make renewable electricity generation cost competitive with traditional sources of energy. Working with our national laboratories and through these partnerships, we are catalyzing the transformation of the nation’s energy system and building on a tradition of U.S. leadership in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity.”

Sounds very encouraging.

Another governmental office is making major strides in promoting renewable energy and as it often does, it emanates in the Mayor’s Office in San Francisco.

The goals are very ambitious.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Mayor London Breed Announces Plan to Power San Francisco’s Downtown with 100 Percent Renewable Electricity writer, photo via YouTube

Mayor London N. Breed today commemorated Earth Day by announcing a plan 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 will be the first in the nation and 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. Joining Mayor Breed for this announcement were representatives from the Sierra Club and local environmental organizations.

“San Francisco has always been a national leader when it comes to sustainability, but we know that the reality of climate change requires us to go further,” said Mayor Breed. “Transitioning our large buildings to 100 percent renewable energy is an important step to continuing the progress we have made with CleanPowerSF towards making San Francisco an even more sustainable city.”

The plan 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 would 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 potential for an emissions-free, all-electric City, starts with 100 percent renewable electricity initiatives like the one Mayor Breed outlined today. San Francisco’s emissions primarily come from the transportation (46 percent) and building sectors (44 percent). A clean electric grid will accelerate electric vehicle adoption and the City’s transition away from fossil fuel sources of energy. This initiative will help achieve Mayor Breed’s Global Climate Action Summit commitment for net zero emissions by 2050. The legislation is co-sponsored by Supervisors Vallie Brown and Ahsha Safaí.

“To reach our climate goals, we need to use less energy and we need it to be cleaner,” said Supervisor Brown, “That’s why I introduced energy benchmarking legislation earlier this year, and that’s why I’m so happy to be co-sponsoring this clean electricity legislation today.”

“Every generation is defined by how they tackled a seemingly-insurmountable obstacle, and climate degradation is our generational marker,” said Supervisor Safaí. “Climate change is here and its effects are only intensifying. Our plan to transition large, private buildings to 100 percent renewable energy underscores the urgency of now and showcases the innovative thinking that will be required of all nations to curtail the destructive effects of global-warming. Kudos to Mayor Breed’s leadership on this important issue.”

To accelerate San Francisco’s transition to an all-electric City, 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 San Francisco’s buildings (existing and new). The task force is expected to produce a decarbonization roadmap for buildings in early 2020.

“A renewable electricity supply is more than just a checkbox in San Francisco’s climate action strategy, it’s a bridge to even greater emission reductions,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “An all-electric City for buildings, residences and transportation is how the City leads the way towards an emissions-free future.”

“San Francisco has long been a climate leader and has one of the most aggressive targets of a major city to achieve 100% community-wide renewable electricity by 2030,” said Jodie Van Horn, Director of Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Campaign. “Mayor Breed’s mandate for commercial buildings shows that the city is willing to turn bold ambition into measurable action to deliver on its clean energy goals.”

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) manages both CleanPowerSF and Hetch Hetchy Power, which collectively will meet 80 percent of the City’s electricity needs by the end of April.

“More than 360,000 businesses and residents are set to choose CleanPowerSF because they value clean, renewable energy options at an affordable price and with local control,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “CleanPowerSF plays a critical role in meeting the City’s ambitious climate change goals. We commend Mayor Breed’s continuing leadership on these issues and we look forward to partnering with our fellow City agencies on innovative and sustainable energy policies.”

An ordinance with the terms of the program will be introduced at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The new ordinance will compliment similar building programs like our auditing and energy benchmarking program for existing buildings, Better Roofs ordinance, and EV Readiness ordinance.

The San Francisco Department of the Environment, in collaboration with the SFPUC, will administer the new program.

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Opening photo via Daily Mail 


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