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City of San Francisco, California

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100% Renewable Electricity by 2020


San Francisco, CA, USA


In December 2010, a $250,000 grant was awarded to San Francisco from the Sidney Frank Foundation to develop an implementation plan over the next 12 months to generate 100 percent of San Francisco’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020 in support of the City’s carbon neutrality goal.

A Mayoral Task Force was created to advise the City on how best to achieve this goal, headed by the San Francisco Environment Department and comprised of local renewable energy leaders, key stakeholders and other City departments.

“San Francisco has the audacious goal of reducing its greenhouse gases to 20 percent below 1990 levels, and to reach this goal, we need to continue reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and power the entire City, not just municipal operations, on 100 percent renewable electricity,” said Mayor Newsom at the time of the December 2010 announcement. “We have come a long way towards creating a brighter energy future for San Francisco. This year we achieved the Kyoto Protocol target of reducing green house gas emissions. Now we must lead the way towards a City powered entirely by energy that produces no greenhouse gases and we must challenge ourselves to achieve it within ten years. I want to thank the Sidney Frank Foundation for helping to chart this map and direct a course that will take us to 100 percent renewable electricity.”

“Some say it’s an impossible goal to achieve, but they said the same thing about San Francisco’s recycling goal – that we would never be able to achieve 75% diversion by 2010. But we did – in fact, we surpassed it and have already reached a 77% diversion rate,” said San Francisco Environment Director Melanie Nutter. “I know that we can achieve 100% renewably generated electricity by 2020.”

San Francisco has already made significant progress in reducing green house gas emissions and generating clean renewable energy to become a 100 percent renewably powered city a reality:

  • This year San Francisco achieved the Kyoto Protocol target of reducing green  house gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels.
  • Reduced municipal, commercial and residential energy use in San Francisco by 45 MW—enough to power more than 45,000 SF households — through aggressive energy efficiency programs.
  • More than 18.5 MW of in-City renewables, with 15 MW of solar PV (more than 2,000 systems) citywide and 3.5 MW of biogas cogeneration at the City’s wastewater treatment plants.
  • All public transportation in San Francisco runs on electricity or biodiesel. 
  • San Francisco has the most aggressive waste diversion rate, green building standards and electric vehicle program of any city in the U.S. 
  • Virtually the entire municipal electricity load, about one-fifth of the total electricity need in the City, is met with carbon neutral hydropower.
  • Replacing the City’s 17,600 high pressure sodium vapor cobra-head streetlight fixtures with energy efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures, which will produce a total savings of 5.7 million kilowatt-hours per year with installation to be completed by spring 2012.
  • The federal government’s pending HomeStar energy efficiency incentive program, coupled with the City’s Energy Watch and Zero Energy Homes programs, is expected to dramatically reduce residential energy consumption.
  • The City’s ten-year GoSolarSF solar incentive program is expected to triple the current amount of solar PV installed citywide by 2017.
  • A 2009 Frank Foundation-funded study showed 30-100 MW of wave energy potential off the coast of San Francisco. Potentially large quantities of urban wind and offshore wind energy capacity are yet-to- be explored.



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