I Would LOve to See This Happen

San Francisco has a ballot initiative this November to seize all PG&E transmission lines and assets in the city such that all city power comes from a new government owned utility.  Further, the initiative would require that this new entity get 100% of its power from renewables, particularly wind and solar, by 2040.  It is similar to a 2001 initiative.

All due respect to PG&E's private property, but I would love to see this happen.  If I were governor, I would be seriously tempted to encourage them to proceed, with the only proviso that no one else in California be allowed to sell electricity to San Francisco on the hugely unlikely possibility that there might be a day without sunshine in San Francisco.   (I find it hilarious that San Francisco's solar future is trumpeted in the "fog city journal.")  This might actually be a big enough disaster that even the media would have trouble ignoring its spectacular failure.  It would also do wonders for the Arizona and Nevada economy, as major industries would move our way.

I am sure San Francisco is well on their way to success.  After all, the city just completed its largest ever solar project

            The solar system is expected to generate 370,000 kilowatt hours of
electricity annually, enough to power 80 San Francisco homes.

Wow.  It can power 80 whole homes, as long as its not night time or winter (when it is seldom sunny in SF).


  1. Anna:

    Oooh, I'm with you on this one. I live north of SF, and I'm getting tired of all the BS coming from their direction.

    If SF does manage to steal/seize the PG&E assets, not only will it be fun to watch them suffering in the dark and cold (I believe they've already outlawed wood-burning stoves and fireplaces), it'll also be interesting to watch every other remaining business entity leave the city. Nobody deserves it as much as San Francisco.

  2. linearthinker:

    Isn't SF home to the Sierra Club? Here's some commentary on renewable energy already serving SF, and the Sierra Club's recommendation.

    O'Shaughnessy Dam and Hech-Hechy Reservoir.

    ...Proponents of the dam (c. 1906) replied that the valley would be even more beautiful with a lake. Muir predicted (correctly) that this lake would deposit an unsightly ring around its perimeter, which would be visible at low water. Because the valley was within Yosemite National Park, an act of Congress was needed to start the project. The federal government ended the dispute in 1913, with the passage of the Raker Act, which permitted flooding of the valley. However, environmental groups (including the Sierra Club) now advocate removing the dam.

    Construction of the dam was finished in 1923. Water from the dam serves 2.4 million Californians in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties, as well as some communities in the San Joaquin Valley, and generates electricity for San Francisco.

    John Muir, Sierra Club founder, c. 1906: "Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man."

    John's spirit lives on. Driving up the beautiful Merced River Canyon from Mariposa to the west entrance to Yosemite this week a highway placard informed me that the "Restore Hech-Hechy" group had adopted that section of road. The movement is alive and well.


  3. linearthinker:

    San Francisco Light and Power proudly serves the beautiful Sunset District, 2012.

  4. Jeff:

    San Francisco would go dark from lack of maintenance and transmission capacity long before they hit the arbitrary deadline for renewable power.

    A large cause of California's blackouts several years ago was lack of north-south transmission lines, that PG&E had been trying to build for over a decade. As far as I know, they still haven't built them. Even if independent producers are willing to sell you power, it won't do any good if you can't transport it.


  5. Chris Yeh:

    Not only does the government of San Francisco love ignoring economics, now they're ignoring science and mathematics as well.

    The only place kookier is Berkeley.

    Did I mention that I hate San Francisco?

  6. Franco:

    OMG - this would be awesome. Can you say schadenfreude? If they do it I hope they go balls out - all the way 100% alternatives. A complete ban on any carbon based fuels. Please tell me, how do I get an absentee ballot?!?!

  7. vanderleun:

    Herb Caen used to refer to the city as "Baghdad by the Bay."

    Now it shall come true: Baghdad, 2004.

  8. Larry Sheldon:

    This is just an off-the-wall guess, but it would not surprise me to learn that PG&E would actually come out a ahead on that deal for a couple of reasons that include the tax burden and the probable retreat of remaining businesses and people fleeing to new locations (although there is a strong possibility that the businesses will flee to Carson City or some such.

    The notion of solar power being of much use (look up "fog") and the battle of the NIMBY's over where to put the windmills should provide some serious entertainment.

    Maybe they can agree to put all the windmills on the Sutro Tower.

    Do I hate San Franciso? Nah. But sometimes I think the best thing to do is to chop the cables on the Golden Gate and Bay bridges and let it fall in.

    What is the best thing about San Francisco? The 5:14 train.

  9. Larry Sheldon:

    Hetch-Hetchy power is hydro, not renewable.

    It is an interesting question though--Im forget just how that tangle is hooked up, but I think the power already "belongs" to Frisco, delivered by PG&E. So if the sever PG&E what happens. Turlock get lots of cheap power?

  10. linearthinker:

    Hetch-Hetchy power is hydro, not renewable.

    As long as it snows in the High Sierra, the power from Hech-Hetchy is renewable.

  11. SuperMike:

    Hydro as it's commonly implemented today is not renewable. There are a finite number of viable, safe dam sites and once they silt up, the party's over. Sure, you can pull down the dam and let the river flush it out, but it's not really gonna go quickly, and you're creating problems downstream (silting up the next dam, killing fish, raising riverbeds, etc.). A noria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noria is sustainable, but really inefficient.

  12. linearthinker:

    Hydro as it's commonly implemented today is not renewable.

    Hech-Hechy is going on 100 years of generation. Google Edison's Big Creek Project, Hardest Working Water in the World. Edison has pumped storage as part of the Big Creek system, using off-peak power from the San Onofre nuke. PG&E does the same at their Helms Project using surplus power from Diablo Canyon. Both companies long, long ago paid off the capital investments in these overall systems. Occasionally we see a reservoir drawn down for maintenance. A B-24 that crashed at Huntington Lake during WW II was exposed on the lake bottom a few years ago during such maintenance. When Shaver Lake was drawn down for Balsam Meadows pumped storage construction, Sugar Pine logs that were water logged and sank to the bottom of the old mill pond prior to WW I were considered for salvage. Fish and Game concerns over turbidity overruled the proposal, which is too bad. The concern that sedimentation limits hydro power on anything but a geologic time scale in these applications is a myth. You'd do well to not post such gibberish.

  13. linearthinker:

    Supermike. You're teasing us, right Mikey?

    From your link: The largest noria in the world, with a diameter of about 20 meters, is located in the Syrian city of Hama.
    ...Norias later became more widespread during the Muslim Agricultural Revolution and were in large-scale use in the medieval Islamic world,[2] where Muslim engineers made a number of improvements to the noria.

    Probably stolen from the Hindus, and improved by a Spaniard, from the looks of it.

    Have you been hanging out at Yoshidad's links? A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  14. Brandybuck:

    One day we're going to get very efficient solar electricity. It still won't meet all of our energy needs, but it will be enough to make it worthwhile to shingle our roofs and pave our roads in solar cells. But that does not mean the government should be mandating it.

    Regarding the PG&E lines, I'm not sure I would call it theft. Since PG&E is a monopoly operating under government privilege and mandate, it's in a gray domain. PG&E may hold title to them, but the California PUC is the real decision-making owner of them. So it really isn't city government versus private business, but city government versus state government. Of course, I would shed no tears if PG&E or the PUC decided to cut the lines right at the city border if San Francisco every appropriated them.

  15. Anonymous:

    Considering that the 80 houses figure is given for power supply distributed over the whole year, I think nighttime and winter are already accounted for in it.