Rally for Clean Power at City Hall
Up to 200 activists show up in support for San Francisco's first green energy program
May 16, 2006 11:41 AM
Up to 200 activists, along with city leaders, gathered in front of San Francisco City Hall to shine light, literally, in support of an ordinance that would make San Francisco the largest publicly owned clean power system in the world.
Attendees showed up fully equipped with mirrors - which they directed at the building - creating little beams of sunlight, in an effort to raise awareness of the need for the first citywide, citizen-driven green energy program in the nation.
The rally, which took place on May 15, at noon, was organized by the Community Choice Energy Alliance, which is a collaboration of some of the nation’s largest environmental groups, including Greenpeace, Local Power, Our City, Sierra Club, and over a dozen other organizations that formed to implement the initiative.
“This is a groundbreaking initiative that will give people the choice to choose where their energy comes from.” said Samantha Rodgers, Greenpeace Clean Energy Now campaigner. “It is something that San Francisco voters have repeatedly called for, and it will make San Francisco a world leader in clean energy.”
The plan - drafted by Local Power, an East Bay organization, and finalized over the past year by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) - will use solar, wind, and energy efficiency to supply a percentage of the city’s energy. The goal is to meet over half the city’s energy needs by 2017.
“To say the least, this is a historical occasion with the possibility and probability of weaning San Francisco off of oil and harness the power of the sun and the wind,” said Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco supervisor, in a brief speech. “All of it makes me feel the future is so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.”
The crowd at the event ranged from businessmen to students, who received free T-shirts that read, “Clean Energy Now - It’s the Community’s Choice.”
Eric Eagon, an international studies major at the University of Wisconsin, flew out specifically to attend the event after seeing it publicized on the Internet.
“I’m here because I think it is important to raise awareness and show that clean energy is available, said Eagon. “San Francisco is a model for others to follow.”
San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano, and General Manager of SFPUC Susan Leal, also made speeches in support of the initiative.
“We need to move forward and get out from under the monopoly,” said Leal, in reference to PG&E.
According to Sierra Club organizer Lindsey Hodel, the initiative just received a $5 million start up budget by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on May 3.
“That was a huge victory, and we want to thank him (Newsom) and the other city leaders for being so responsive about the environment,” said Hodel.
According to a recent announcement by Newsom, the plan is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors sometime in June. The program, funded by energy bonds, will offer rates equal to, or lower than, those currently offered by PG&E.
“This is not only an opportunity for clean energy, but it is a chance to stabilize rates,” said Tony Winnicker, director of communications for SFPUC. “It’s not just about price, but stability of rates, particularly over time,”
Beverly Varvour, former resident of San Francisco, said she hopes this is just the beginning of the breakdown of the alleged PG&E monopoly.
“Look what they did to us during the energy crisis,” said Varvour. “I’m disgusted with PG&E, and I think the citizens ought to be too, but many people are too concerned with convenience to see the future. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction toward changing that.”
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