07.15 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

OPERATIONS COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 034

San Francisco, CA 94102

 


*The Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 5:00 p.m. Regularly Scheduled Meeting of the Commission on the Environment’s Operations Committee regularly held at the Department of the Environment’s Ground Floor Conference Room at 11 Grove Street was held at City Hall, Room 034.

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Matt Tuchow (Chair), Alan Mok and Paul Pelosi Jr.

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Operations Committee meeting was called to order at 5:08 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Mok, Tuchow (Chair) and Pelosi Jr. (5:18 p.m.)

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the April 15, 2009 Operations Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Chair Tuchow and second by Commissioner Mok, the April 15, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Commissioner Pelosi Jr.) (Explanatory Document: April 15, 2009 Approved Minutes)

 

3.      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.

 

4.      Report on the Energy Watch Program and Stimulus Package Funding for Energy Block and Competitive Grants.  Speaker:  Cal Broomhead, Department of the Environment Energy Manager (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that the Department of the Environment has recently issued a Request for Proposal(s) (RFP) for technical assistance in operating the energy-efficiency program.  It is expected that responses will be received by the end of this month, and a selection would be made by mid- to late-August.  The RFP is for $25 million with a capacity of five years, and it is hoped that over the next five years, $25 million would be acquired to run the program.  Energy Watch is the main energy-efficiency program and presently focuses on commercial and multi-family buildings.  The stimulus package money would be used for the residential, single family, and two- to four-unit buildings, which would complete the coverage of the market sector for buildings. 

 

Mr. Broomhead stated that the 2006-08 Energy Watch program was completed on December 31, 2008.  However, the start of the program was delayed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision-making process and by PG&E, which resulted in only 22 months to run a three-year program. As a result, the program was concluded and fell ten-percent short of the three-year goal.  If another three weeks to run the program was made available, the goal would have been reached.  Mr. Broomhead reported that PG&E had discounted by 20% all of the energy savings that was gained because they said that 20% of the projects would have performed the work without a program.  If they gave a 5 or 10% discount, which is the number that was thought that local government programs should receive, then the goal would have been exceeded substantially. Because work is being performed in the multi-family and small-business sector, all of the studies have shown that only 4 to 5% of the projects would have actually have performed the work anyway.  It was felt that the 20% discount was an unfair penalty; however it was applied not only to San Francisco, but to all local governments across the state.   

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that the energy savings added up to 34.5 million kilowatt hours, which is a large number.  For the 2009-11-cycle that was to have started on January 1, the CPUC and utilities have again delayed the process.  The cycle is already seven months in progress, and the utilities had to turn in their third proposal for programs that were to happen for the three year cycle, because the two previous submittals were found to be non-responsive or deficient by the CPUC.  San Francisco and other cities have recommended that the program cycle run from 2010-2012 because it is operating on bridge funding for 2009. One of the utilities just submitted comments supporting that idea.  To date, given the last two quarters, another 11 ½ million kilowatt hours was saved, so almost 1/3 of what was completed in the previous three-year cycle was completed in the first six months of this cycle.  

 

Mr. Broomhead stated that the program is keeping a fast pace, but a slow down was noticed in June because a contract was terminated for a small business program, which resulted in internalizing the entire program.  It was difficult to find Spanish and Cantonese speaking staff to replace the sales staff that had been there previously. The Department recently hired Ms. Claudia Espino, a Spanish speaking civil engineer, who is going through the training and preparing audits, and a job offer has been made to a native Cantonese speaker.  The program will then be fully staffed and should be operating well.

 

Chair Tuchow inquired if the Energy Watch program could still be administered if the cycle were to be delayed. Mr. Broomhead reported that the program is being administered through a bridge-funding process, which provides temporary funding.  Work is performed through the previous administrative rules and recommended changes to the program cannot be applied through this process.  Mr. Broomhead reported that the program has $6.7 million allocated for this year, but the three-year cycle only has a $12 ½ million allocation, so half of the money would be expended in the first year and would result in a deficit after the second year.  One of the comments consistently being made in the last year is that PG&E needs to upgrade their commitment to the Department’s contract for this next cycle. 

 

Mr. Broomhead reported on good news that more multi-family building owners and contractors are joining the multi-family program.  Mr. Lowell Chu was commended on doing a tremendous job with the program, which is almost matching the commercial program. 

 

Chair Tuchow inquired about the Energy Watch program’s contribution to department funding.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Energy Watch program and the Impound Account provide a vital part of the Department’s budget.  Mr. Broomhead reported that the Energy Watch program is funding approximately ten Department staff and half of the funding is allocated to contractors who are doing the construction work and used to provide incentive money to close the deal with the building owner. 

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that the stimulus package that the Department is involved with is energy-efficiency and conservation block grant money that the City is entitled to receive from the Department of Energy (DOE).  The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the lead agency and the administrative contact with the DOE.  The Mayor has proposed that half of the stimulus money be applied to municipal projects and the other half for community-based projects.  The Department’s projects are considered to be community- based.  The Department is waiting to hear approval from DOE on the proposal, which was turned in on June 22.  The PUC is planning about a three-year roll out on all the projects. 

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that at the last Commission meeting, he had provided a brief description of block-grant proposals. One of the proposals was an upgrade to heating systems for multi-family building owners, and the second was targeting single-family and two- to four-unit building owners, the small buildings.  These buildings generally need a comprehensive assessment that needs more modern tools.  It was explained that the science of buildings has come a long way, especially in San Francisco where there are very old buildings. Twenty-five percent of all of the two- to four-unit buildings in the state are in San Francisco.  These buildings are complicated when it comes to looking at the envelope and the dynamics of heat and water heating within them and have issues about either creating negative or positive pressures.  Negative pressures can contribute to mold and mildew buildup in the house and the degradation of indoor air-quality. By applying the more modern assessment methods, the upgrades that are required to fix the problem can be identified.  

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that a workforce development element would be part of the program, which would include working with community-based organizations to provide outreach and education to the public on how to save energy in their homes.  Community outreach workers would be trained on how to talk to tenants and homeowners and provide a home-assessment related to toxics, safety, energy-efficiency, and water conservation. It is called the community resilience program, the idea is to make homes in San Francisco resilient to the various kinds of pressures that could be placed on the community, e.g., earthquake, a rise in gas, electric, or food prices, and other things that make it difficult for people to sustain themselves.  At the end of the program, the outreach workers would gain the experience doing that type of work and be able to get jobs with the Home Performance contractors. The positive side of focusing on these areas is that the state will be offering incentive money in the home performance area.  In addition, work is in progress on the clean energy loan fund, which is going to offer tax-lien financing to building owners for doing this type of work.  

 

Chair Tuchow inquired whether any part of the stimulus money going to the Department would be directed to programs other than energy-efficiency.   Deputy Director Assmann reported that a regional proposal was submitted to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area. Commissioner Pelosi Jr. inquired about the Department’s previous assessment that there was no need to upgrade the electric-vehicle charging stations at this time. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the new proposal is based on the knowledge that there will be many more plug-in hybrids available, and people would need a place to charge them in addition to being able to charge them at home.  A response won’t be received on whether funding is available for another two months.  Commissioner Pelosi Jr. stated that San Francisco already has some charging stations.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that there are a few stations, but not a lot.  The charging station is not a complicated thing to set up, it uses standard electricity, but it does have to be in place and accessible.  This would add to the number and spread it around the city and would give people options to charge their vehicle at publicly and city-owned garages. Commissioner Pelosi Jr. inquired about who would be incurring the electricity costs for stations outside the home.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the City would be absorbing the electricity costs initially; however, it would be a pilot program and the financial model would have to be determined.

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that an additional Department program that would be using stimulus money would be to target workforce development.     
   

5.      Review and Status Update on the Department of the Environment’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2009-10 and City and State Funding Allocations.  Speaker:  David Assmann, Acting Director, Department of the Environment  (Explanatory Document:  Fiscal Year 2009-10 Budget pages 1-3 and pages 4-5)  (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Deputy Director Assmann distributed copies of the Department of the Environment’s (Department) final budget for FY 2009-10 and described the budget process and status.  It was explained that the Board of Supervisors Finance Committee approved the Department’s budget, and the full Board would be voting at their meeting on July 21.  It was explained that the full Board rarely makes changes, so it expected that this is the final budget for the year.  Deputy Director Assmann explained that the Department has two major sources of funding from (1) the Impound Account ($7 million) and (2) the Energy Watch program ($7 million).  The change in this year’s budget is that $865,000 of the Impound Account funds are being allocated to the Department of Public Works (DPW) as a result of the Mayor’s Office request to support DPW’s projects because their General Fund allocation was reduced.  Because the Department’s Impound Account budget had increased, it did not have a significant impact, so no major projects would be cut, but some were scaled back.  The Department’s funding from other City departments that traditionally provide funding had been reduced, mostly for the Urban Forest program; however, it will still be possible to run the program through the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) contributions.

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the state has dramatically cut the Department of Conservation (DOC) budget by 85%.  As a result, the DOC’s traditional allocation to the Department of $220,000 a year to run recycling programs has been reduced to approximately $30,000.  Salaries will not be affected as they were moved out of the funding source, but it does mean that that certain programs promoting recycling will not be available next year.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that there is a slight chance that it may be reinstated, but he is not optimistic.  Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether private sources of funding could compensate.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that private funding is being sought after, but is not easy to find.  It was explained that DOC funding was a dedicated source that could be used to promote recycling without too many restrictions—it was for bottle and can recycling.  This budget reduction would affect some of the non-profits that the Department works with such as the San Francisco Conservation Corp which received 40% of their funding from the DOC, and the California Conservation Corp, which received 80% of their funding from the Conservation Corps.  The Oil Recycling grants received from the state would not be cut for this fiscal year ($206,000), but would be dramatically reduced for FY 2010-11.  It was explained that there are state implications, but that the Department is still in good shape unless the state makes dramatic cutbacks, which would mean the overall City budget process would be reopened. 

 

6.      Written Report on New Grants Received by the Department of the Environment and Current Grant Applications.  Prepared by: Shawn Rosenmoss, Department of the Environment Manager of Grants and Fundraising (Explanatory Document:  Grant Proposals and Applications) (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Ms. Fish reported that Ms. Rosenmoss had provided a written report that reflects grant proposals/applications submitted or in process since April 1, 2009, and earlier proposals that have been funded recently or have been transferred into a new funding cycle, e.g. EPA Sustainability Skylines.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the largest dollar amounts listed is the $4 million for the Energy Efficiency Block Grant stimulus proposal that Mr. Broomhead discussed and the $9 million stimulus proposal for an Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure.  It was explained that the $4 million listed should actually be 3 ½ million—that it is a $7 million project that both the Public Utilities Commission and the Department would be receiving half of.  The EV proposal amount is for the entire region, and the Department’s portion would be $2 million.  All proposals that don’t have an amount listed in the granted column are pending; proposals that have zero in the granted column were not funded, and proposals that list a dollar amount have been funded. The final column explains the duration of the funding. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the new grant proposal that has been funded is the Sidney E. Frank Foundation for the Zero Net Homes pilot project for $250,000 that would work on getting homes to be self-sufficient in energy use through the use of solar and other efficiencies so there is no net-energy going into the home.  Commissioner Pelosi Jr. inquired about allocation of funding, whether it would be used for Department staff or for outside agencies to work on the project.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that funding would be allocated to outside agencies and for staff to set up zero net energy homes.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that an urban forest grant for $15,000 from the San Francisco Foundation was received for an urban gleaning project.  Gleaning is the planting of fruit trees as street trees and gleaning means people can just pick and eat the fruit. 

 

7.      New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion) (Explanatory Document:  Future Agenda Items List)

 

Ms. Fish distributed the Operations Committee Future Agenda Items Checklist and reported that the next meeting is scheduled for October 14, 2009.  Commissioner Tuchow inquired about the San Francisco Chronicle article on the Tidal Energy project proposal.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the article wasn’t related directly to what the Department has been doing on this project in the past.  Commissioner Pelosi Jr. stated that the technology in this area has improved and that there would be announcements made in the future.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the federal government is switching responsibility for permitting from one agency to another.  It was explained that the Department submitted a permit to one agency, and they had rejected it stating they were no longer responsible.  As a result, the process has to be started all over again.  There is also a large fee just to apply for a permit for a pilot.

 

8.      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.

 

9.      Adjournment.  The Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 5:46 p.m.

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Committee’s website at https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/operations-committee by following the links with each agenda or meeting minutes, (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or (5) via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

*Approved: October 19, 2009 

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