UNPLUG THE CITY HALL-SHELL GAME

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There’s a boondoggle coming to the residents of San Francisco. In another rush to political correctness, the SF Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider the so-called “CleanPowerSF” deal which would violate consumer choice by promoting one of the biggest air polluters in the world while at the same time gouging the pocketbooks of city residents.

The SF Public Utilities Commission has come up with a plan that is so outlandish, the only way they can get it implemented is by forcing it upon 180,000 unsuspecting San Franciscans who will be chosen at random and forced to pay the new higher rates for electricity or pay a fee to opt out of the forced energy purchases.

The plan is to make these residents to buy their energy from Shell Energy in what is supposedly 100% renewable energy. But according to the Political Economy Research Institute, Royal Dutch Shell is the 28thworst polluter in the world spewing nearly 3 million pounds of toxic air releases a year and having a toxic score in 2010 that was just behind BP oil and 400% higher even than Chevron oil.

Even worse, not only does CleanPowerSF promote Royal Dutch Shell, the electricity generated by Shell will cost the average San Franciscan an extra $1,080 over the five years contracted with Shell. With fluctuating prices, estimates have skyrocketed to $324 per household per year, or $1,620 over five years. That’s assuming the boondoggle does not lose money.

More galling was how retiring SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington, whose salary hovers around $300,000, claimed that he and a “huge percentage” of San Franciscans could afford a rate hike. The handsomely compensated general manager said he could “have green energy for the cost of dinner for two on Valencia [Street] for a year.” We don’t see how that addresses the real cost concerns of Asian families in San Francisco, but it does point out how out of touch the SFPUC is, where APAs are grossly underrepresented in upper management and policymaking ranks, especially when it comes to rate, consumer and cross-cultural communication issues (see “Potstickers” 8/23/12).

After Harrington’s testimony, the SFPUC’s plan came under great scrutiny, especially by two Asian American supervisors. Committee Chair Carmen Chu voted against the contract while colleague Jane Kim amended the deal, demanding a comprehensive outreach campaign to immigrant and limited English proficient communities while supporting a discount for low income households.

But there’s no guarantee that the most vulnerable will be protected by any outreach. SF Unified School District made APA public school parents guinea pigs for years on student assignments, leading to confusion and losing out on prized school selections.  And earlier this year, with the outcry of consumers, petitions and small businesses, City Hall back down on implementing a hefty bag fee to implement a consumer education plan.

On Sept. 18, San Francisco Supervisors must VOTE NO, and unplug the Shell-CleanPowerSF deal.

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