August 10 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes

MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2015, 5:00 P.M.

*If a quorum of the Commission on the Environment is present, it will constitute a Special Meeting of the Commission on the Environment.  The Commission Secretary shall make a note of it in the minutes, and discussion shall be limited to items noticed on this agenda.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Elmy Bermejo


Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

1.    Call to Order and Roll Call.

The Policy Committee was convened 5:02pm. Present: Commissioners Wald and Bermejo.

2. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.

There was no public comment at this time.

3. Microgrid Planning and Development in San Francisco.  Speakers: Cal Broomhead, Climate and Energy Programs Manager and Russ Carr, Senior Engineer-Arup (20 minutes) (Informational Report and Discussion)

Director Raphael introduced the item as part of the 0-50-100-Roots strategy: The 100 % Renewable Energy strategy includes both reducing demand and improving our energy supply. Community choice aggregation and procurement is one opportunity. Another is to look at local energy production within San Francisco, not restricted to just those who have large enough roofs, but through connecting local residents to each other. “Microgrids” are a favorite phrase, but they are not widely implemented. San Francisco doesn’t have microgrid infrastructure yet. Mr. Broomhead is working on a project to develop microgrids that’s considering equity, feasibility, reliability, and more. There are technology and regulatory barriers that need to be addressed as well. Once the framework is in place, project partners will begin fundraising to implement projects. 

Energy Program Manager Cal Broomhead introduced the concept of microgrids and described the microgrid planning and development project that he has been working on. Project partners include the Department of Emergency Management, NERT, SFPUC, Public Health, PG&E, Renewable Funding provide pro bono, Rocky Mountain Institute, Sandia Lab, and Berkeley Lab, County of Alameda, and the USDN. Our lead contractor is ARUP.

Mr. Broomhead explained that microgrids are vital to the future of the city, especially for disaster planning. San Francisco hospitals and fire stations have a 2-3 day power supply and it is not feasible to increase liquid fuel supplies to run back-up generators. By increasing alternate energy sources, depletion of liquid fuel supplies slows, increasing the overall amount of time these supplies will last.  

The Department of Emergency Management provided a list of over 200 critical facilities that the city must keep up and running to provide emergency response services. These sites are being screened for the possibility of developing microgrids. The DEM lists includes identification of priority routes for clearing debris and opening roads, where there will be faster restoration of fuel and energy. The program will target sites further from these priority routes, where restoration of services will take longer.

Other considerations include proximity to other sites, the likelihood that residents can or will leave the city, and feedback provided by each District Supervisor. There will be twelve sites total, with one site in each Supervisorial District and two sites in District 10.

Russ Carr, Senior Engineer at Arup, outlined grant timeline, project parameters and deliverables.  Mr. Carr emphasized the need to ensure a stable energy supply to prepare for emergencies. A Lifeline Study assessed all energy restoration in San Francisco, which identified that natural gas restoration wouldn’t being until one month after a disaster and could take up to 12 months to fully restore. Within three days, 65% of electricity will be restored and within seven days 95% will be restored. Therefore, an emergency power system will need to provide seven days of service.

A project priority ensuring economic system design that can be widely deployed. They’re considering PV and battery storage technologies. Current payback timeline for PV is 20 years, and energy storage (batteries) is 10 years.  Though the status quo is diesel generators, they are not considering this, due to fuel load depletion concerns.

When determining feasibility for a site, the first consideration is whether the building has a large motor load, typical only of very large water pumps. If there is a large motor load requirement, they then consider whether or not a diesel generator is already on site.  If there aren’t any large motor loads, then will evaluate how much space is needed to generate the required energy load. If the building needs more space for generation than it has (for example it requires 300 square feet PV, but there is only 250 square feet of available roof space) they’ll start to look at implementation of energy microgrids.

In California, power generation can only be shared with one other user, and can’t be connected if the transmission line crosses a public right of way.  This is a potential regulatory issue to work on.

Public Utilities can, however, connect transmission line between municipal buildings without changing existing regulatory barriers. The California Public Utilities Commission has been included in discussions about possible opportunities for microgrid development.

The project will be complete by December 31, 2016. Deliverables include:
• 12 microgrid zones identified with groups of buildings, financing feasibility plan, and a proposal for system ownership and operation.
• Identification of alternative safety features that will allow the PV to continue to work in emergency situations. Currently, PV systems automatically shut down when the grid fails.
• A design tool to create a feasibility plan for buildings. It will include the ability to adjust the number of days needed for emergency energy supplies, building energy loads, and building energy generation opportunities. This tool will make it easier for building owners to dynamically assess costs and can assist with grant seeking by creating shovel-ready plans that would otherwise be time consumptive and costly to create.
• A policy roadmap to assist other cities in microgrid development.

Public Comment:
Jason Freed from the SF Local Agency Formation Commission has been working on Clean Power SF.  He described a bill Ammiano introduced to solve the regulatory barriers that disallow wires connections across roadways, which did not pass. CCA would work with groups that would draw power all the time, which is a potential economic resource. The emergency preparedness side is a big concern. Earthquakes could disrupt transmission lines from far away. The City currently uses PG&E wires for transmission of Hetch Hetchy power. CCA can offer cost saving by not having to pay for transfer any longer. When it’s not using the energy, CCA becomes the customer. Mr. Freed highlighted public safety issues, noting that when the grid goes down, solar PV power sources will be unusable. He suggested that batteries can be charged by PV in one location, then moved to another location to meet energy demand. Microgrids have a single connection point to the grid and can be disconnected from that point and still work. Mr. Freed stated that this is an ambitious, but achievable, plan. Mr. Freed reported that large new developments (TI and BVHP) are installing gas water heaters, though electric water heaters would be better due to the increased time it will take to restore natural gas. If a battery is charge and then moved, it may be able to be legally sold. There’s opportunities to model with public power spots right now.

Eric Brooks with SF Clean Energy Advocates has worked for the past 11 years to get Clean Power SF off the ground. Clean Power SF is a funding source that will be able to buy and sell power at better prices. Mr. Brooks urges the project team to work closely with SFPUC for long term funding. Two buildings can be connected right now. Microgrids can be implemented in a way that meets current regulation, if connections are made between 4 or 5 buildings, and perhaps more around emergency hubs. Mr. Brooks said that Proposition G makes it impossible to use category 3 renewable credits, due to how Prop G excludes this potential energy resource from being identified as “clean” by Clean Power SF. He urges the Commissioners to educate the public on this concern. Mr. Brooks supported the idea of charging and moving batteries, which can be implemented within the current policy framework.  

4. Director’s Update. Deborah Raphael, Director (Discussion) Director Raphael reported that she testified twice to the State Water Board on composting regulations, which had identified that composting facilitates could become a potential source of water table contamination. In response, SFE pulled together a panel that included Director Raphael. The State Water Board directed this panel to develop a set of recommendations, which the Water Board then adopted. Director Raphael was pleased to report that her second testimony was to thank the Water Board for adopting their recommendations. Another recent success was the completion of the landfill contract.  The Chronicle published a supportive opinion piece. There was a brief discussion regarding Waste Management's lawsuit over this contract. The Zero Waste team was at the CRA conference last week. SFE is hiring several positions, including an Energy Manager and a Renewable Program Manager. Both are key positions that are part of the restructuring over the past year.  A Climate and Systems Manager will be hired next, who will oversee the Green Building program as well. A new press person is being hired along with two other outreach positions. Commissioner Wald requested that the Commission Affairs Manager position be filled as soon as possible. On Oct 1st and 2nd, Bloomberg, the Clinton Climate initiative, and John Kerry will highlight the importance of municipal level action at the Paris climate program. San Francisco, Boston, than DC. 25 cities will be hosted. Roger Kim and Mayor Lee recently spoke at the Vatican, which was the third time Mayor Lee has spoken about San Francisco’s climate initiatives and the 0-50-100-Roots Climate Strategy. Director Raphael expressed appreciation and pride for Mayor Lee building this pathway to speak on about climate issues on the international stage. Implementation of renewable diesel use in the municipal fleet is expected to result in a 60% reduction in GHGs. Commissioners asked if residents access this fuel source. Director Raphael explained that the City can afford the fuel due to state and federal subsidies. There was a brief discussion acknowledging that some people may willing to pay more, but the price can’t be brought down for the public through the same subsidies.

5. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)

Commissioner Wald requested an informational item on SFE’s Energy Program restructuring.

The Postal Service will be presenting with the Zero Waste team on their efforts to improve their recycling rates, which were undertaken in response to the letter the Commission sent them.

September Policy committee: Chris Geiger and Sraddha Mehta will present on the project they are working on with the Mayor’s Office of Housing to improve IPM practices at properties that are being transferred from the Housing Authority to private management companies. Following that presentation, the Commission will invite the management companies to talk about implementation.

October Policy Committee: President Arce has requested an update on the MTA commuter shuttle program.

November or December Policy Committee: United Airlines will be invited to speak about their work with jet fuel.

The next full Commission meeting will be in the Portola neighborhood.

6. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.

There was no public comment at this time.

7. Adjournment. The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:33pm.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee is scheduled for Monday, September 14, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in City Hall, Room 421.

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, California, 94103 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Photo identification is required for access to the building; (2) on the Policy Committee’s website, or (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected]. The meeting audio can be reviewed at website link