Many San Franciscans recently joined in a widespread public outcry when they learned about a loophole in Clean Power SF’s policy of rejecting nuclear energy. Because of that outcry, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to close that loophole July 14, putting a complete ban on all use, purchase, or exchange of nuclear energy by CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s community choice energy program.
Since CleanPowerSF launched in 2016, SFPUC staff have excluded nuclear power from the program. But they suddenly put a major change in that policy on the agenda for the June 23 Commission meeting. The measure would have allowed CleanPowerSF to take nuclear energy
from PG&E’s aging Diablo Canyon plant and sell it to communities outside
San Francisco, in a deal that would have netted a little over $1
million for CleanPowerSF. The deal would have exploited a
loophole in the previous policy which prohibited CleanPowerSF from
selling nuclear power to its own customers, but did not explicitly
prohibit selling nuclear power to other cities.
PG&E’s nuclear deal was also presented to each of the other
community-based clean energy programs (known as Community Choice
programs) in its service territory. Since PG&E’s initial proposal in
2019, community choice advocates, other environmental and climate
activists, and environmental justice organizers, have risen up to denounce
the idea that nuclear is a “clean” energy source, and to
demand that such deals be rejected.
So far in PG&E’s service area, most community choice agencies have rejected the offer of nuclear power, including East Bay Community Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, MCE Clean Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy, Valley Clean Energy, Monterey Community Power, Redwood Coast Energy Authority. Three have accepted nuclear energy: Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Pioneer Community Energy, and San Jose Clean Energy.
When San Francisco residents discovered the nuclear-deal proposal on the June 23 agenda, a broad array of community stakeholders demanded that it be removed. So the item was delayed to the July 14 meeting. Then Commissioner Sophie Maxwell and SFPUC staff reached out to stakeholders
to engage a dialog about the proposal. On July 14, after hearing overwhelming rejection
of the nuclear deal from stakeholders, SFPUC staff and the Commission
dramatically amended the proposal to transform it into a complete ban
on all use or exchange of nuclear energy by the CleanPowerSF program.
Eric Brooks, Coordinator of Californians for Energy Choice said, “This
is a big victory for the clean energy movement, and will help us in
ongoing efforts to shut down PG&E’s dangerous Diablo Canyon nuclear
power plant much earlier than its currently planned 2025 closure date.”