04.07 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

OPERATIONS COMMITTEE

 

RESCHEDULED MEETING APPROVED MINUTES
THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2011, 5:15 P.M.

 

San Francisco City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA  94102

 

*Note:  The Wednesday, April 20, 2011 Regularly Scheduled Meeting of the Commission on the Environment Operations Committee that regularly meets at the Department of the Environment Eco Center, 11 Grove Street, was RESCHEDULED to Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 5:15 p.m. and was held at City Hall, Room 421, San Francisco, CA.

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Alan Mok (Chair), Jason Elliott and Angelo King

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Operations Committee meeting convened at 5:20 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Mok, Elliott and King.

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the January 19, 2011 Operations Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document: January 19, 2011 Operations Committee Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner King, second by Commissioner Elliott, the January 19, 2011 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Mok, King and Elliott).

 

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.      Approval of Department of the Environment Solar Monitoring System Grant. (Explanatory Document:  Solar Monitoring System Grant Solicitation) Sponsor: David Assmann, Deputy Director; Speakers: Tyler Espinoza, Department of the Environment Solar Program Associate and Jade Juhl, Solar Program Coordinator  (Informational Report, Discussion, and Action)

 

Mr. Tyler Espinoza reported that the Department of the Environment is offering a Solar Monitoring System Grant to San Francisco schools.  A solar monitoring system is an online system connected to a solar electric system on the roof that displays real time power generation.  It will serve as an education tool and incentive for schools to move forward in installing renewable energy on their rooftops.  At the time the grant was first offered in February, a workshop was held to discuss financing mechanisms for San Francisco schools to install these systems on their roof. Since then, solar site assessments have been conducted for interested schools.  The source of funds is from the Solar America Communities Grant, a program of the United States Department of Energy.  The Department of the Environment will be disbursing up to a total of $15,000 to the first two or three schools that sign up to cover online monitoring system costs for new solar photovoltaic systems installed on school property and one year of the software service.  Schools will solicit the bid for the monitoring system on their own. 

 

Commissioner Elliott inquired how schools would fund the installation of the system. Mr. Espinoza stated that the system could be funded through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a solar lease, or through an independent cash purchase.  Commissioner Elliott inquired whether the grant is available to both public and private schools.  Mr. Jade Juhl stated that he has worked with Mr. Nik Kaestner, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to find solutions in order to install solar in public schools, but budget constraints and the fact that schools acquire their power from SFPUC plays a role in making it unfeasible at this time.  The grant is mostly directed toward private schools at this time. 

 

Commissioner King discussed the budget issues faced by private Catholic schools and the importance of showing costs savings achieved by installing this type of system that would create sustainable and less expensive energy.  He suggested specifically reaching out to all charter and private Catholic schools and starting with private high schools that may have a potential workforce sector in this area.  Mr. Juhl reported that there has been outreach to private Catholic schools, with the majority being high schools.  He explained that many of the schools have considered installing solar systems and have requested more information on the potential of solar and what the financing options would be.  Mr. Juhl reported that a Power Purchase Agreement is being recommended, which is a finance option that allows schools to install solar on their roof, is owned by a third party developer, and that developer is selling that electricity at a discounted rate to the school.  There are no upfront costs that the school has to pay for the system.  They would switch from paying PG&E so much per kilowatt hour to paying the solar provider so much per kilowatt hour, which is typically at or a lower rate than PG&E and escalates at a much slower rate over time than what the PG&E rate is expected to escalate based on history.  It allows schools to get the benefits of tax incentives.  The 30% federal tax credit is a big piece of what makes these systems affordable at this time. These private schools cannot take that tax incentive, but by going through a PPA, that private developer that owns that system and selling electricity to the school is able to take the tax credit and cost savings and monetize those to the private schools. 

 

Mr. Juhl reported that the systems have to be of a certain size to be attractive to these developers.  There were only one or two sites in San Francisco that were large enough to be offered a PPA.  Economics is what is going to make this project successful.  As part of the site assessments and reports made to schools, schools are provided with estimates of system costs and cost savings based on the best data available from programs that have collected pricing data in the state and city.  Ultimately the schools have to request bids from actual installers to find out what the real price is and what they would be saving.

 

Commissioner King suggested finding sister and brother schools to sell to or an aggregate of schools to sell to at the same time.  He suggested the possibility of cultivating a non-profit culture that ultimately serves as a go between to help schools that are unable to participate.  Mr. Juhl stated that community aggregation has been looked at.  He explained that some of the sites do have multiple facilities under the same school and would research how this type of system may work. 

 

Commissioner King stated that utility costs are the biggest source of output for schools outside of personnel.  He stated that offering an example of how other schools have offset their utility costs with installation of this system would be the best way to sell the system.  Mr. Espinoza reported that as part of the workshop, 17 schools had sent representatives to the workshops.  None of the schools in San Francisco have signed up for a PPA at this time; however, a school in Danville did a system in this way; and their representative attended the workshop to discuss their experience in doing the project and savings achieved.  Their rate started slightly higher than PG&E and was supposed to go lower based on best projections after five years, but crossed over in year two with rates lower than PG&E.  The biggest barrier in San Francisco is the roof or land area to install these systems on.  Danville had the area available to them. 

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Elliott, second by Commissioner King, the Department of the Environment Solar Monitoring System Grant was approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Mok, King and Elliott).

 

5.      Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Budget Update. (Explanatory Document:  Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year 2011-12 Budget Narrative) Sponsor:  Commissioner Alan Mok; Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that changes have not been made to the Department’s Fiscal Year 2011-12 Budget since it was reviewed by the Operations Committee at its January 19, 2011 meeting and submitted to the Mayor’s Office in February.  He reported that the Department’s budget had previously been heard at Board of Supervisors budget hearings along with General Fund Departments, but since the Department does not receive money from the General Fund, it will now be considered with Enterprise Departments a month earlier.  The Department’s first budget hearing is scheduled for May 18th, and the second on May 25th. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that there has been dialogue with the Mayor’s Budget Office and Board of Supervisors Budget staff and changes, if any, would be made within the next thirty days.  He reported on the City’s overall General Fund budget shortfall for this year of $380 million and three year projected deficit of $600 million if cuts are not made.  The deficit would still be approximately $300 million even if cuts are made.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department has been asked to provide the Department of Public Works with additional funding to supplement their JobsNow employment program.   The Department has offered to provide the Department of Public Works with $100,000 from its Impound Account to meet that request.  Commissioner King inquired if the $100,000 would impact programming for Department personnel.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that $100,000 would not affect staffing, but an additional amount would present a problem.

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Mayor would be submitting its balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors on May 1st, at which time the Board of Supervisors proposes adjustments. The full Commission would be provided with a budget update at its May 24, 2011 Commission meeting. The Department’s budget is scheduled to be heard at the full Board of Supervisors hearing at the end of June.  The Operations Committee would be provided with a report at their July 20, 2011 meeting.   Deputy Director Assmann reported that the budget that has been submitted is fully funded and covers all staff and program work, and he does not anticipate any problems.  Additional information will be available after detailed questions are received from the Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst. 

 

Commissioner King stated that the Department has benefited from additional funding to expand the EnvironmentNow program to 21 staff.  He asked how the Department would be marketing the fantastic work that program staff is doing and expanding this opportunity to other departments that do not have funding available for this program.  This is the only department that was able to find permanent employment for JobsNow folks.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that he is interested in doing a case study as the work of EnvironmentNow staff continues to be documented.  He reported that EnvironmentNow staff is doing what consultants had previously been doing and are doing it more effectively and efficiently.   

 

6.      Status of the Department of the Environment’s Office Move.  (Explanatory Document:  Office Space Considerations) Sponsor:  Commissioner Angelo King; Speaker:  David Assmann, Deputy Director (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported on the Department of the Environment’s office space considerations for its move in 2012.  Considerations discussed included location, size requirements for office and eco center space, number of current staff and projected growth, and other space considerations (see explanatory document).  The Department of Real Estate has provided the Department of the Environment with five potential locations to date. Only one of those spaces is located in the Civic Center area at 1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor.   The requirement is for the space to be located either in the Civic Center area or near a MUNI station, e.g. Powell or Montgomery Street area that would be easily accessible to City Hall. He reported that the Crocker Galleria ground floor was shown and turned out to be an inexpensive option near a MUNI station. 

 

Commissioner Elliott suggested that the Department consider 1455 Market in order to show the City’s commitment to the Civic Center area and because of potential future redevelopment plans in the mid-market area.   Deputy Director Assmann reported that it is important for the Department to secure a space a year before its move by the end of May in order to acquire Board approval, negotiate with the landlord, and to make tenant improvements.  Commissioner Elliott stated that the Mayor’s Office would be happy to partner with the Department in a move to the Civic Center area.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that he is hoping to see more options in the Civic Center area on April 14th.

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that other sites visited include 600 Harrison, which is not convenient because it is three full blocks from Market Street and a MUNI station, the Mills Building at 280 Montgomery Street, and another location on California Street that is not workable.  More locations will be shown on April 14th.  Commissioner Elliott inquired whether the City owns any of the buildings that are being considered.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the City does not and is not expected to acquire any new buildings in the near future.  He discussed the Department’s previous attempt to move into 25 Van Ness, and the Board’s decision that the Department of Real Estate first markets it as a restaurant space.  He explained that the Department’s current building is not big enough, and he does not want to extend the lease for any amount of time. Additional specifics and final selections would be reported on at the July 20, 2011 Operations Committee meeting.

 

7.      New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Deputy Director Assmann reported that he would present a status report on the Department’s move at the July 20, 2011 meeting.  Commissioner King asked that Director Nutter attend the July 20th meeting to discuss how Department staff will report on the economic impacts of Department programs. 

 

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 were no members of the public present at this time.

 

9.      Adjournment.  The Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 6:02 p.m.

 

The next Operations Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 5:00 p.m., at the Department of the Environment’s Eco Center, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

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

 

*Approved:  July 20, 2011

 

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