CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
BIODIESEL ACCESS TASK FORCE
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2006, 10:00 A.M.
TASK FORCE MEMBERS: VOTING: Eric Bowen (Chair), Adam Hagen (Vice-Chair), Melissa Hardy, Benjamin Jordan, Karri Ving. NON-VOTING: David Augustine (Treasurer/Tax Collector), Richard Berman (Port), Sarah Dennis (Planning Department), Vandana Bali (Department of the Environment), Mike Ferry (Fire Department), Tom Franza (SFPUC), Laurence Kornfield (DBI), Dina Mackin (MOCD), Marty Mellera (MTA), Virginia St. Jean (DPH).
TASK FORCE SECRETARY: Monica Fish
ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL. The meeting was called to order at 10:07 a.m. Present: Voting: Vice-Chair Hagen, Members Hardy and Ving. Non-Voting: Members Augustine, Bali, Dennis, Mackin and St. Jean. Excused: Voting: Chair Bowen and Member Jordan. Excused Non-Voting: Members Berman, Franza and Mellera; Absent Non-Voting: Members Ferry and Kornfield.
2. ACTION: Approval of the November 16, 2006 Biodiesel Access Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes. Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Hagen and Second by Member Hardy, the November 16, 2006 Meeting Minutes were approved with no objection. (Explanatory Document: November 16, 2006 Approved Minutes)
3. DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: Continued Discussion on Recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on Incentives for Gas Stations to Include Biodiesel Pumps (Continued from the November 16, 2006 Meeting).
SPEAKER: Member David Augustine
Member Augustine discussed the three options for incentives (1) tax exclusion for companies/gas stations that install biodiesel on premises; (2) a fee waiver or fee reimbursement; and (3) a direct subsidy from the City. A discussion was held about the advantages and disadvantages to the three options. Member Augustine stated that he has researched tax exclusions and explained that only half of San Francisco gas stations pay the payroll tax so any tax exclusion would benefit only half of gas station owners.
Member Augustine stated that the Health Department would have additional information on fees and reimbursements that the city and state imposes on businesses and what might be offered. It was stated that fee waivers could be a real option as fees are substantial. Member St. Jean, Department of Public Health, advised that the program manager has the authority to waive fees and recommended that the Task Force prepare a formal request letter to the Public Health Director.
Member Augustine stated that a direct subsidy to businesses that have biodiesel on premise would be the easiest but most controversial method. It was advised that all three options would have to be approved by the Board and signed by the Mayor and recommended going forward to start consultations with the Board.
Vice Chair Hagen advised that he has had a preliminary conversation with the Chair about approaching Supervisor McGoldrick to introduce incentives. Member Augustine agreed to formalize the discussion from the last two meetings in writing in order for the Task Force to draft a proposal to the Board and would include dollar amounts and number of stations. Vice-Chair Hagen asked Ms. Fish, Task Force Secretary, what the formal process would be for approving a letter. Ms. Fish advised that the Chair could draft a letter with other members as long as it were less than a quorum of voting members, and present it to the Committee for a vote before forwarding to the Board of Supervisors.
Member St. Jean stated that she would work with Task Force Chair Bowen on a first draft letter and would determine potential sites for fee waivers. Member St. Jean discussed the benefits of biodiesel for the Health Department, e.g. reducing particulate emissions and reducing health consequences, such as asthma. It was advised that a first time incentive is not unusual, but a permanent fee waiver has not been offered before.
Member Augustine and St. Jean’s draft letters would be placed on the January Task Force Meeting agenda for further discussion and approval. Member St. Jean indicated that she would work on determining potential sites for fee waivers. Member Augustine explained that availability of storage tanks would be the key indicator for the ability for a gas station to have biodiesel on premise. It was advised that the Health Department has a list of storage tanks above and below ground and could cross check with the Treasurer’s Office list of gas stations to determine eligible companies. Member Hardy recommended that incentives for new biodiesel filling stations be included.
4. DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION. Update on Expression of Interest from Gas Stations on the Installation of Biodiesel Pumps (Continued from the November 16, 2006 Meeting).
SPEAKER: Vice-Chair Adam Hagen
Vice-Chair Hagen reported that the communication with the California Association cannot be sent out soliciting incentives to gas station and convenience store owners until Board approval is received. Member Augustine recommended sending a letter asking what station owners think would be an appropriate incentive amount. Vice Chair Hagen explained that at a prior meeting the cost of conversion and flushing was determined to be between $1200 and $2500. Member Hardy stated that there may be station owners that have environmental and ecological interest in the project and fee waivers may not be necessary. Member Augustine advised that there had been interest by big banks in San Francisco but that they are looking for higher volume transactions instead of getting a project started off the ground.
Public Comment: Mr. Kevin Drew, Department of the Environment suggested that the letter contain a survey questionnaire asking the station owner what it would take to make them respond and recommended a ranking system with approximately five items and leaving a blank for them to fill in.
Member Mackin recommended that an interviewer talk to the station owner individually and asked if there is a way to assess demand. Member Hardy stated that the DMV could be researched to see how many diesel passenger cars are registered within San Francisco. Member St. Jean stated that there are two populations to research, the B20 and B100 users and recommended putting together a work group to do surveys. Member Mackin suggested contacting Olympian to see if their sales have increased since they started to offer biodiesel. Member Ving stated that Mr. von Wedel had suggested putting a proposal together that companies that contract with the City would gain favor by using biodiesel.
Vice-Chair Hagen stated that an introductory letter to announce upcoming issues, to gage interest, and cite potential markets without mentioning incentives would be acceptable. Task Force Members Hagen, Hardy, and Ving recommended that the introductory letter be sent out to station owners as discussed.
5. INFORMATIONAL REPORT. Update on Permitting Regulations for Biodiesel (Continued from the November 16, 2006 Meeting). Continued to the January 18, 2007 meeting.
6. INFORMATIONAL REPORT: Citywide Fleet Biodiesel Implementation Update from December Core Team Meeting.
SPEAKER: Member Vandana Bali
Member Bali reported that the first meeting between fleet managers from major departments that are going to be impacted by the Mayor’s Executive Directive 06-02 to have a biodiesel blend of B20 in City fleets by December 31, 2007 was held in December. Departments that participated included the Fire Department, Central Shops, Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Airport, Office of Contract Administration, MUNI, the Mayor’s Office, and the fleet manager for Alameda County. The Port was not in attendance due to a scheduling conflict. A report was made on the status of the pilot programs and departments that have implementation programs in place.
Fire Department: A status report will be forthcoming from the Fire Department on Phase 2 of the project. A discussion was held on the Fire Department being uncomfortable with the transition to biodiesel and their perception of the new fuel. In their recent test of their ladder truck, biodiesel fuel was not the issue with performance problems with the truck. Rather, the fuel pump seemed to have caused the performance problems and that issue is being looked into. Member Bali advised that the Department of the Environment would discuss this issue with Mike Ferry and then, if necessary, the Department of the Environment Director would talk to the Fire Department Chief to try to resolve this issue. It was stated that it is critical to overcome this issue, as the pilot is highly publicized in the media.
Central Shops: Mr. Jim Johnson, Central Shops has converted their 6000 gallon tank in Golden Gate Park to B20 as Phase 1 of the project that will continue until March and then will convert 100% of the other tanks as Phase 2 of the project. No problems have been reported or anticipated and, Central Shops is willing to talk to other departments.
Public Utilities Commission: PUC expects their first fuel delivery sometime at the end of this year. They have leased three above ground tanks and have one in the Hetch Hetchy facility, but because of the weather, they are delaying the start of that pilot until spring. At CDD, they are going to have 20 vehicles that they are going to test and are going to have equipment that will start in February. In Sunol, they will have 12 vehicles that will start at the end of this month and end in February. PUC does not anticipate problems with the fuel itself, but concerns expressed were finding correct entities for parts that are going to be required for the ongoing maintenance, the tank, and the fuel quality as it goes from the real car to the distributor to the tank to the truck. Discussions will be held at monthly meetings.
MUNI: MUNI is the largest user and is interested in seeing how fuel demands are going to be met with working fuel. They have 12 buses that are going to be part of a pilot going to various routes in the City that have nearly been finalized. A draft plan will be presented. The pilot is anticipated to take a month once it is started.
San Francisco Airport (SFO): SFO shuttle bus contracting company is already using B20 on their engines and has not had incidents with the fuel, but have had problems with the City’s fuel provider with reliability and meeting needs at the time they need the fuel. SFO is looking for other contractors that can meet their demands.
Office of Contract Administration (OCA): Ms. Bali stated that it is important to supply information to OCA for centralization of information once it is available.
Member Bali advised that she is working with Mr. Randall von Wedel on basic FAQ’s and looking at other cities around the country that have done this successfully.
7. INFORMATION: New Business. Member Bali stated that (1) she is working with retail gas stations to schedule dates for the press event at 23rd and 3rd Streets; (2) a $200,000 grant was received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will be co-managed by City College for producing training and educational materials on biodiesel; (3) groups in Bayview Hunters Point will be allocated grant funding for training residents on biodiesel type projects; (4) Caltrans grant will be received in January for environmental justice research projects in Bayview Hunters Point; and (5) diesel pump is open for fleet operators and working on letting the public know to help generate business.
8. DISCUSSION: Future Agenda Items. (1) Presentation by the author of Not a Gas Station about starting the Biofuel Oasis (Member Hardy); (2) Informational Report on Citywide Fleet Biodiesel Implementation Update (Member Bali) and (3) Press Conference (Member Bali).
9. PUBLIC COMMENTS: Members of the public may address the Task Force on matters that are within the Task Force’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.
Public Comment: Mr. Richard Gillis, President, Energy Alternative Solutions, Inc., Watsonville, reported that they have just built a biodiesel plant in Gonzales that will be operational in two to three weeks. A discussion was held on the plant’s production capacity, end users, equipment, feedstock, and similar issues that the Task Force has been addressing, e.g. working with a local college on mechanic training.
Public Comment: Mr. Clark Aganon, Consultant for the Department of the Environment and San Mateo County was introduced.
10. ADJOURNMENT. The Biodiesel Access Task Force Meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m.
Respectfully submitted by,
Monica Fish, Task Force Secretary
** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Task Force office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) upon request to the Task Force Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org, or (3) on the meeting website as attachments to the agendas or meeting minutes.
Adopted: January 18, 2007