Tackling one of the thorniest issues involved in launching its renewable energy program, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission staff proposed a pricey rate cap for its first group of muni electric ratepayers. At a March 25 special meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Local Area Formation Committee, city staff floated the idea for a maximum $10.78\/month premium above Pacific Gas & Electric rates for households that use up to 139 kWh\/month. The premium for residences using up to 288 kWh\/month would max out at $21.16\/month. Those consuming up to 405 kWh\/month would have a maximum monthly premium of $29.78. \tThe commission and LAFCO were to vote on the rate cap April 1, but a decision was put off until April 23. \tCleanPowerSF\u2014the city organization handling the move to community choice aggregation\u2014has a 100 percent renewable energy program,which is supposed to come online later this year. It\u2019s supported by the San Francisco Chapter of the Sierra Club and some labor unions. Their support is conditioned on the community choice program investing in local renewable projects to keep muni ratepayer funds in the region and create local jobs. \t\u201cWe are really supportive of a robust and immediate local build-out of renewables and energy efficiency,\u201d said Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Sierra Club conservation coordinator. \tCleanPowerSF followed in the footsteps of California\u2019s first community choice aggregator, Marin Energy Authority, by signing a five-year renewable energy deal with Shell Energy North America. The San Francisco-Shell deal is for 30 MW of renewable energy. Most of it is set to come from \u201cgreen\u201d energy credits attached to out-of-state wind, solar and other non-fossil energy projects. \tThe Shell deal raised the hackles of local electric worker unions because of the impact to California jobs. Earlier this year, it launched a \u201cStop the Shell Shock\u201d campaign, and asserted CleanPowerSF rates would be double PG&E\u2019s rates. \u201cSadly, the city and electric customers will receive almost nothing in exchange for the much higher cost and risk of future additional costs,\u201d Howard Stern, IBEW Local 1245 business representative, stated. \u201cThe Shell plan will mean losing nearly 100 local jobs and, per the contract, no new facilities are required to be constructed in order for Shell to meet its supply obligation,\u201d he wrote in a March 18 letter to the San Francisco PUC Rate Fairness Board. PG&E is the monopoly service provider for the city and county apart from some small direct hydro power. San Francisco was supposed to get free hydroelectricity from the Hetch Hetchy dam through a federal deal a century ago, but that promise was never fulfilled. \tA survey of San Franciscans concluded that few were aware of CleanPowerSF, with about one in five familiar with the program. It found that 48 percent supported the 100 percent local renewable program, up from 37 percent last year. Support grew to 52 percent with the promise of large-scale local renewable projects and energy efficiency providing the needed power. \tLast year, the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of CleanPowerSF. Initially, between 70,000-90,000 customers are to be enrolled in the program. \tThe rate cap would rise annually, under the staff proposal. The proposal puts a kWh price ceiling of $0.1457 for its generation this year. That would drop to $0.1447 in 2014, then rise to $0.1488 in 2015, and $0.1519 in 2016, and $0.1552 in 2017. \t Dervin-Ackerman noted that if the proposed rate cap is hit, it would make San Francisco the most costly community choice aggregator in the nation. She urged rates be \u201ccompetitive with PG&E\u2019s.\u201d System-wide, PG&E\u2019s rates now average 15.2 cents\/kWh. It\u2019s 2013 generation rate is estimated to be $0.0788. \tTo help control costs, Dervin-Ackerman urged San Francisco regulators to tap into the authority granted by San Francisco voters in 2002, allowing the city to issue bonds to finance renewable and efficiency projects. Bond financing could keep a lid on costs and avoid the first crop of CleanPowerSF projects subsidizing those who later join, she noted. \tIn related news, the Marin Energy Authority will soon supply Richmond residents and a proposed California Public Utilities Commission ruling approves a fee settlement between PG&E, San Francisco, Marin Energy Authority, and direct access providers. \tThe Richmond City Council voted last June to join Marin\u2019s community aggregation program. Beginning in April, Richmond residents can opt out of the program, which is set to begin power deliveries in July. The electricity provided by the authority is \u201ccleaner and greener,\u201d with customers continuing to get bills from PG&E, according to Jamie Tuckey, Marin spokesperson. The utility bills will include the addition of a line labeled \u201cMarin Clean Energy electric charges,\u201d which replaces PG&E\u2019s generation charges, along with an ongoing $4-$5 exit fee imposed by PG&E. The pending CPUC fee settlement would consolidate PG&E\u2019s service fees. The utility\u2019s service fees for community choice aggregators and direct access customers are to be rolled into the utility\u2019s 2017 general rate case under the pending ruling.