PG&E vs. the Planet
KPFA Evening News, broadcast 04.26.2014
Eight months after the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission effectively halted the San Francisco City and County's renewable power program, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation that would require the City and County to at least study the option of joining Marin Clean Energy, Marin County's renewable power program. Supervisors London Breed, Scott Wierner, David Campos, and Eric Mar are co-sponsoring the legilsation.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: John Avalos, Pacific Gas and Electric, San Francisco's utility monopoly, holds onto the San Francisco market by holding onto the mayor's office and the Public Utilities Commission. So, what do you think this ordinance is going to change when the Public Utilities Commission still has to approve it?
Supervisor John Avalos: I'm not clear if anything is going to change, but we haven't stopped trying to make a clean power program for San Francisco residents work. We owe it to the planet to do that, and this is a step we're taking. Under the Mayor, the Commissioners have opposed efforts to implement CleanPowerSF, but I don't think they can continue do that forever, especially when the City's policy is to go to 100% renewable by 2030.
KPFA: Well, how serious is it if there's no penalty for not acting on the City's policy?
Avalos: Well, that stuff happens all the time. I think what's important is that you expose it. Let people know that there's obfuscation going on. And that's exactly what we're trying to do. By having various options for clean power and alternative energy, eventually the Lee Administration and its efforts to oppose clean power and alternatives to PG&E will be exposed. And that's what we've been trying to do, and it's been very, very hard to get the establishment media organizations, especially the Chronicle, to take this issue on. The Mayor came and read a pack of lies at the Board of Supervisors meeting back about five months ago. Pack of lies. And, it was not exposed by the media, and we're taking our time to make sure that the lies about why the PUC and the Lee Administration opposed CleanPowerSF get out there and get exposed.
KPFA: You said that San Francisco is no longer a leader in clean power. Do you think that's because the electorate has changed?
Avalos: No. San Franciscans believe that climate change is real and we want to do something about it.
KPFA: Doesn't the mayor appoint most of the members of the Public Utilities Commission?
Avalos: The mayor appoints all the members of the Public Utilities Commission. They have to come before the Board to get approved, but there's actually a changeover that's happening for Public Utilities Commissioners this year, for some of them. One of them, I believe, Art Torres, who was one of the main opponents of clean power. He's up before the Board this summer or early fall and I don't intend to be supporting Art Torres, unless he has a change of heart, but I wouldn't trust that he would.
KPFA: So I'll trust that PG&E did not support your mayoral campaign?
Avalos: No. Basically, mayors, and a lot of candidates for office in city government, go the PG&E route. When Carmen Chu, who was appointed Supervisor was running for her seat, there was a public power measure on the ballot. She got all kinds of money from PG&E to do commercials against the ballot measure while she war running for her seat. So there are a lot of people who choose the PG&E route to get into public office, and, generally speaking, the mayor's office is the place where PG&E puts the most weight in elections.
KPFA: Supervisor John Avalos, thank you for speaking to KPFA.
Avalos: My pleasure. Thank you.