FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2015
Contact: Hunter Stern (415) 517-0318
San Francisco – Less than a week after the California Labor Federation passed a statewide resolution requiring transparency in energy labeling, four San Francisco Supervisors withdrew a ballot measure they had filed that would have allowed the City to sell brown power as green.
The measure specifically identified unbundled Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) as a viable option and would have allowed the City to use these RECs, to greenwash brown system power that will be delivered to San Franciscans when they are automatically enrolled in the City’s new energy program in early 2016. RECs have been dismissed by many experts as an accounting gimmick that does nothing to reduce emissions or create more clean power. Ed Harrington, former Manager of the SFPUC, told KQED that RECs aren’t real green power. And Daniel Press, a professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, has said that RECs do little more than pay the salaries of the people selling the certificates. In a word, they’re a scam. Finally, Michael Gillenwater, founder of the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute and expert on greenhouse gas measurement and reporting has stated the fundamental question: “Is your ‘Green Power’ really just ‘Green Washing?’ His unequivocal answer: “Yes.”
“Supervisors Breed, Wiener, Avalos and Christensen did the right thing by withdrawing their measure, and we appreciate their commitment to ensuring San Francisco’s power supply is transparently labeled,” said Hunter Stern, a representative from Truth in Energy and the San Francisco Business Representative of IBEW 1245. “San Franciscans want real green power from actual renewable sources that tangibly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working with the Supervisors to craft a measure or ordinance that helps electricity customers better understand what kind of power they’re getting and at what price.”
Renewable Energy Certificates are pieces of paper that show that somewhere, at some time, one mega-watt hour of renewable energy was produced. For example, when a wind farm in Idaho generates green energy, a certificate is also created. The actual energy may be used in Idaho – but the certificate can be bought by the San Francisco PUC. The City has argued that merely purchasing the certificate allows them to market regular brown power as green. That may improve the air quality in Idaho, but not here. That is why the California Air Resources Board has determined that unbundled RECs cannot be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel power production.
“The Truth in Energy community supports the formation of a Community Choice Aggregation program with the goals identified by Mayor Lee and Board President Breed – but we insist that the City be transparent about the energy it sells,” Stern added.