October 21, 2014

East Bay, along with California, moves forward with Community Choice energy

10440739_10152020396947723_3945628812076948721_nMomentum for Community Choice energy has only been building during the months-long fight against Assembly Bill 2145—nicknamed the “Utility Monopoly Protection Act”—that which would have put up major roadblocks to the implementation of Community Choice programs in California (see “AB 2145, renewable energy wrecking ball: down but not out”). AB 2145 failed to make it to the Senate floor for a vote before the state legislature adjourned on August 31st, and is now dead. With that hurdle cleared, clean-energy advocates throughout the state are energized and re-focusing on local initiatives to create or improve Community Choice energy programs from Sonoma to San Diego and everywhere in between.

In the Bay Area in particular, there has been a groundswell of movement on Community Choice. The cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, and San Pablo, as well as Napa County, have all expressed interest in joining Marin Clean Energy. Officials from Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, along with the cities within those counties, are exploring options for creating their own Community Choice programs. Alameda County has taken a leadership role in creating an East Bay clean power program—and officials in Contra Costa County are warming up to the idea. The Bay Chapter has been actively engaged in the East Bay efforts to develop a Community Choice program, convening monthly organizing meetings with likeminded organizations and activists who want to democratize and transition our energy system to 100% renewable electricity.

On June 3rd, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to allocate $1.3 million for the study and formation of a Community Choice energy program. The county’s Community Development Agency put forward a timeline of 18 months for a feasibility study for the program, followed by another 18-month period for prepping for program launch and implementation.

One of the largest components of the feasibility study is an analysis of the energy-load data from 1.55 million county residents and establishing a plan for serving the county’s energy needs. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has jurisdiction over the unincorporated portions of the county, which represents only 10 percent of the county’s energy load. In order for the feasibility study to be as robust and accurate as possible, individual cities within the county will also have to proactively opt-in for their load data to be included in the study; the Sierra Club and its partners are advocating for these cities to do so.

Other important components of the first 18-month period include setting up a community advisory board for the program and engaging in community outreach so that residents throughout Alameda County are informed and involved in the transformation and localization of our energy system. The extent of Contra Costa County’s participation in this program or in a separate Community Choice effort remains to be seen.


If you live in Alameda County, contact your city manager to ensure your city is included in the Community Choice feasibility study.

If you live in Contra Costa County, call your supervisors and let them know you are supportive of Community Choice! Find your supervisor’s contact information here.

Assessing the fallout: partial victories, opportunities lost with Chevron refinery project

checronThe Chevron refinery expansion project approved by the City Council this summer is a partial victory for Richmond residents concerned with clean air, climate disruption, safety, and jobs. At the same time, however, the deal represented critical missed opportunities including a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions and additional safety upgrades.

It was a long and difficult fight. Chevron spent millions on mailers, billboards, and “citizen” rallies to promote what it claimed was simply a “modernization” project. They continually repeated the mantra “Modern equals cleaner.” How many times did we hear the comparison of a new car to an old car? Chevron spread money freely to sway public opinion and win endorsements.

Contrary to the rhetoric, Chevron’s real goal was to retool the refinery to enable it to process higher-sulfur crude oil—a process that results in more greenhouse gases and more toxic contaminants. The approval guaranteed Chevron that ability.

What We Won

Environmental and community-based groups fought hard to use the  approval process as an opportunity to reduce locally-produced greenhouse gasses, reduce toxic contaminants in the air, and make progress toward sustainable energy production. The Sierra Club worked with our allies—the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Richmond Progressive Alliance, California Nurses Association, 350 Bay Area, and the Sunflower Alliance—to mobilize Richmond residents to countless trainings, community meetings, and hearings to weigh in on the project throughout the environmental review process.

With environmental groups forcing attention to the project and the August 2012 Chevron refinery fire still fresh in the community’s collective memory, the city council’s approval included important concessions. Ultimately, Chevron was required to accept greater limitations on the sulfur content of its crude, and agreed that the expanded facility would produce no increase in greenhouse gases. Since toxic emissions are generally co-pollutants with greenhouse gasses, toxic emissions will likely also be reduced. Chevron will also have to replace more piping than originally proposed and reduce diesel particulate matter. Even at the last minute, Chevron was forced to make further concessions, including $90 million in community investments over the next decade (with $8 million for green-energy programs), up from a previous pledge of $60 million.

These significant victories were the result of a mobilized community that was aware of the issues from years of organizing and education; a coalition of organizations that came together to counter the massive Chevron misinformation campaign with its own materials and outreach; and a Planning Commission (appointed by the progressive mayor and councilmembers) that was willing and able to stand up to Chevron’s intense pressure.

Opportunities Lost

Unfortunately, the city council was unwilling to stand up to Chevron and endorse all of the Planning Commission’s forward-thinking recommendations, which, if adopted, would have resulted in an even safer, more environmentally friendly project. Recommendations that were left on the table would have required: the retrofitting of tug boats; ships docked at the refinery to turn off their engines; and the facility to develop a plan to continue to reduce toxic emissions. Furthermore, the $90 million Community Benefit Agreement did not include funds to save Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, which treated most of the patients who sought medical help after the 2012 refinery fire.

The Battle Continues

Local environmental groups are considering a legal challenge to the city council’s decision, based on the fact that some final details of the agreement were introduced without an appropriate and legal review period. The Sierra Club will report on any developments with regard to the potential lawsuit.

For its part, Chevron is continuing to campaign. It has already given $1.6 million to a Political Action Committee to elect Nat Bates as mayor and Charles Ramsey, Donna Powers, and Al Martinez to the city council. If elected, these individuals would carry out Chevron’s political agenda and squelch the progressives on the council who demanded a cleaner and safer refinery. The Sierra Club has endorsed the Team Richmond candidates: Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Jael Myrick for Richmond city council and Tom Butt for Mayor.

The eight-year fight surrounding the Chevron expansion project demonstrates two important points. First, when a community organizes, it can force concessions—even from powerful multinational corporations. And second, in these situations there are rarely complete victories.

—Mike Parker, Eduardo Martinez, and Jess Dervin-Ackerman

A Sierra Club intern joins the fight for refinery regulation

toon oil 2It was only the second time I had been to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District office in San Francisco… and I was already boycotting a meeting. Fifteen or so organizers from local environmental and community groups had come from all over the Bay Area to comment on the Refinery Emissions Tracking Rule, a new regulation that would institute improved monitoring standards for oil refinery emissions and potentially require refineries to reduce their emissions over time.

In anticipation of our presence, however, Air District staff had moved the Refinery Emissions Tracking Rule to the end of the agenda at the last minute, presumably in the hope that most of us would have to get back to jobs, doctors appointments, or kids long before the item would be heard before the Air District Board. So, we gathered as a group, and after some deliberation decided to walk out on the meeting, with two representatives volunteering to stay behind and voice our complaint to the Board.

The group’s frustration was not just about one wasted morning. Rather, the consensus was that the agenda switch was just the latest example in the Air District staff’s long-standing pattern of undermining and ignoring community input on this rule and other community protections we and our allies have sought. The rule—originally proposed to address the issue of refineries switching over to lower-quality crude such as the infamous Bakken and Canadian Tar Sands—has been repeatedly delayed and weakened by Air District staff since its initiation in June of 2012. A proposal put forward last year by the local steelworkers’ union and a coalition of local environmental groups for 20% emissions reductions by 2020 was seemingly ignored by Air District staff, and no other method for reducing refinery emissions and quelling community health and safety concerns has been offered since. Instead, in April of this year, Air District staff removed the proposed cap on emissions from the Rule entirely, stating that the intention was never to reduce emissions, just to monitor them.

Community members from the Sierra Club, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the National Resource Defense Council, Communities for a Better Environment, Global Community Monitor, the California Nurses Association, and Crockett-Rodeo United to Defend the Environment, and more have been present at full Board and subcommittee meetings for two years now, seeking an answer to the question: are we going to clean up our air or just study ourselves to death?

For too long, the Bay Area’s five oil refineries have been polluting our air and water and pouring money into local politics to ensure they can continue their dirty, harmful practices. In the Bay Area alone, air pollution kills nearly 2,000 people each year. The Sierra Club believes that it’s well past time for the Air District to take strong and bold action to protect our communities from the toxic air pollution spewing from these facilities.

For the most recent Board meeting on September 3, each group mobilized to turn out community members and draw attention to the Refinery Rule. The Sierra Club’s email alert resulted in over 760 emails to the Air District. This finally had an effect: many Board members spoke up, calling publicly for a rule with teeth that includes the emission reductions that are needed to safeguard community health. Air District staff acknowledged the comments from the community and board, and stated its plans to present on the Rule at the next Stationary Source Committee meeting on October 1. Among the supportive Board members was Director John Gioia, the chair of the Stationary Source Committee. The Sierra Club and partners hope that with Director Gioia’s support, the committee will officially recommend that the full board ask for emission reductions as a part of the Refinery Emissions Tracking Rule slated to move forward by the end of 2014.

The Bay Chapter will continue to closely follow the Air District’s actions over the coming weeks and months. With continued community input and Board support, there is still hope for stronger regulations that prevent toxic polluters from poisoning Bay Area families.

Add your voice to the growing movement in the Bay Area calling for strong and bold action to reduce dangerous emissions and carbon pollution from the refineries along the Bay. Write a letter to the Air District here.

—John Ribeiro-Broomhead is a sophomore at Stanford  University. He just completed a summer internship with the Bay Chapter’s conservation program.

Rooftop solar threatened in Alameda

Rooftop solar. Photo via 64MM on Flickr CC.

Rooftop solar. Photo via 64MM on Flickr CC.

The future of rooftop solar in Alameda is uncertain. Local utility Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) is considering the successor to its Net Metering Energy program. Under the net metering, solar customers sell only their surplus energy to AMP at the wholesale price for renewable energy. The alternative Feed in Tariff (FiT) proposal would require customers to sell all their power to the utility at wholesale prices before buying it back at higher retail prices. AMP would also get the value of the Renewable Energy Credit , which presently goes to the solar customer. As proposed, the FiT program would be a major disincentive for solar. We anticipate that as a result of this program, little or no new solar would be installed in Alameda. Moreover, such action in Alameda could set a precedent that would impact solar statewide and nationally.

The Alameda Public Utility Board meets on the third Monday of each month and the FiT proposal is expected to be heard within the next few months. To get involved in the campaign, contact Ruth Abbe at Ruth.Abbe at gmail.com.

—Ruth Abbe

Extreme cyclist and activist: Zeke Gerwein

Zeke at the Canadian Border“Any of you ride your bike at least three times a week this summer?” asked a P.E. teacher at Berkeley’s King Middle School at the start of the fall term. He was not prepared for Zeke Gerwein’s answer. Between June 15 and August 18, Zeke logged 3,400 miles, biking from Tecate, at the Mexican border, through the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades to Canada, and then down the coast to Arcata. In the hottest areas, he was usually on the road by 6:15 am; in more temperate zones he donned his helmet at 8 am. Depending on the elevation, mileage, weather, wind direction, and fitness of the adult accompanying him, he biked from two-and-a-half to 14 hours a day, six days a week. On the last day of his journey, after 110 miles on the road, Zeke and his companion rode into Arcata 45 minutes after sunset.

The 13-year-old planned this adventure—and he planned it very carefully—not to assure himself a place in a book of records, but to raise money for the Sierra Club, to raise awareness about climate concerns, and to demonstrate how to truly see the world and leave only narrow (non-carbon) tire prints. This summer’s tour raised the stakes from last year’s, when Zeke bicycled 1,851 miles from the Mexican border to Seattle and collected $3,000 for the Sierra Club  Bay Chapter.

Zeke’s was an educational enterprise on multiple levels. An extraordinarily articulate young man, he shared his story and learned from people he met along his route.  Since his return home, has shared his experiences with others. Publicity generated by his long and unique journey also has alerted many to the imminent dangers of global warming. And Zeke learned more about climate change on the road than he could ever have learned at a desk.

Although he had prepared himself well and had already determined not to ride through intolerably hot areas, Zeke was still surprised by the implacable heat. Before his body adjusted to 115-degree weather, he suffered heatstroke in the Mojave Desert. In Ashland, Oregon, where very hot summer temperatures might be expected to reach 88 in normal years, the thermometer reached 103. Zeke saw the earth itself suffering too. He bicycled alongside vast burnt areas in central and northern Washington State, where raging wildfires had destroyed hundreds of homes.

Despite these omens, Zeke was impressed by those he met along the way who are kind to the land. In eastern Washington, he camped in an orchard, transformed from 20 acres of highway debris and planted by a couple who had immigrated from Mexico. The couple gave Zeke 20 pounds of stone fruit to eat on his journey.

Zeke was always accompanied by one of eight adults. For 11 days, from Crater Lake to Mount Rainier, that companion was his father, Joel.  For three days, between Kings Canyon and Yosemite, Zeke’s 70-year-old grandfather rode beside (or behind) him. Most nights the bicyclists camped out, but occasionally one of the adults would feel the need for a real bed, and the pair would stay in a motel. They carried some food with them and ate some meals in restaurants or in front of grocery stores. Twice a day, Zeke would phone home to reassure his pediatrician mother and his 10-year-old brother that he was fine.

Back in Berkeley, Zeke tends to his classes. He likes math, geography, history, and he loves to read (Chaim Potok and John Steinbeck are among his favorite authors) and write (he’s catching up on his trip blog). But that P.E. teacher needn’t worry. Zeke still rides his bike about 60 miles each weekend.

You can show your support for Zeke’s Ride by making a donation to the Bay Chapter.

—Karen Rosenbaum

Alameda County Board of Supervisors to consider a ban on fracking

thisoneThe fight to ban fracking in Alameda County is coming to a head. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of our local alliance, Alameda County Against Fracking, a county-wide fracking ban is on the agenda at the September 4th meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. You can help make the fracking ban a reality by joining us at the meeting and writing a letter to the Supervisors showing your support for a frack-free Alameda County.

We need a big crowd to turn out and voice their support for this action. In a conversation last month, Supervisor Scott Haggerty—who is introducing the anti-fracking legislation—emphasized that the success of this ban relies on the Supervisors hearing directly from their constituents. He also said: “I will certainly hear from Chevron.”

Big Oil will fight us on this. So it’s more important than ever that our elected officials hear from YOU. Let’s make sure the Board of Supervisors stays accountable to the voters—not to the oil and gas industry.

WHAT: Alameda County Transportation and Planning Committee meeting
WHEN: Thursday, September 4, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: 1221 Oak Street, 5th floor, Oakland

Even if you can’t make it to the meeting, please take a few minutes to write a letter urging your local Supervisor to sign on to the fracking ban, and thanking Supervisor Haggerty for introducing the legislation.

Read more about the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter’s anti-fracking efforts in “New alliance calls for Alameda County fracking ban.”

“Out of the classroom”: an intern observes environmental activism up close

Author Frances Swanson (second from right) with (left to right) Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman and fellow summer interns Vanessa Gerber, Isabella Bustamante, and Thomas Munzar.

Author Frances Swanson (second from right) with (left to right) Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman and fellow summer interns Vanessa Gerber, Isabella Bustamante, and Thomas Munzar.

As the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.” I walked away from the Senate Energy Committee Meeting on June 23 with mixed emotions. A patchwork of frustration, hope, and excitement mingled together while feelings of empowerment and disempowerment played leap-frog. At the end of the day, we—those fighting Assembly Bill 2145, the Utility Monopoly Protection Bill—got what we needed, but not what we wanted. Community Choice Aggregation in California was no longer saddled with an opt-in provision, but the bill still passed.

When I drove up to Sacramento that Monday morning, I did not know what to expect. Before that day I had attended meetings of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland City Council, but this was the first time I would experience decision-making at the state level. In fact, just about everything I did that day I did for the first time: going to a press conference on the steps of the California State Capitol, running around to senators’ offices in an attempt at last-minute lobbying, waiting for over an hour in a crowded hallway for the hearing to commence, and speaking in front of the committee during the public comments period.

I spent the majority of my day watching and listening. I decided to intern at the Sierra Club this summer because I wanted to experience what environmental activism looked and felt like, and this was a perfect opportunity for me to observe. I observed as the Bay Chapter’s conservation organizer, Jess Dervin-Ackerman, debated with a man there to share his support of the bill. I noticed how both of them were simultaneously joking around while being deadly serious about the matter. I saw how the people around them turned an eye and an ear to their conversation in the hope of seeing some action. I saw how both were truly listening to what the other had to say, while maintaining their own firm stance.

I observed the audience of the Senate Energy Committee meeting react throughout the hearing. I saw the woman sitting next to me raise her hands and wiggle her fingers in support of someone’s statement. I saw activists making pointed eye-contact and whispering to one another. I observed the blank faces of the senators sitting on the committee. I saw the fear on the No on 2145 organizers’ faces when thirty people stated their support of the bill. I saw the energy in those same faces when seventy people stated their opposition to the bill. I experienced the butterflies right before I got up to the microphone and the smile on my face as I walked away.

I observed all of the anger, patience, annoyance, fear, optimism, and passion of the day. While I have many, many more things to observe, people to meet, and thoughts to consider, my trip to Sacramento and the four weeks of planning and organizing leading up to it gave me a bitter-sweet taste of environmental activism out of the classroom and in “the real world.”

—Frances Swanson, SF Bay Chapter intern

Read more about AB 2145 in “AB 2145, renewable energy wrecking ball: down but not out” and “Alameda County Board of Supervisors votes to move forward on Community Choice.”

Getting UC out of the fossil fuel industry

Fossil Free UCIn response to pressure from the Fossil Free UC student movement, the Regents of the University of California (UC) will vote at their September meeting on whether to divest from their fossil fuel holdings. With a General Endowment Pool of nearly $7 billion, a vote to divest would be a huge victory for the planet.

Divestment is a tactic that has worked in the past for issues such as apartheid in South Africa, tobacco, and the Sudan. Climate change is arguably the biggest issue of our time. The students of Fossil Free UC recognize that if we continue to emit atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases at the current rate, by 2050—when current UC students are in the prime of their lives—the impacts on global climate could be catastrophic. We owe it to future generations to ensure their future is not unlivable, and UC can make a difference.

The University of California has an admirable carbon-neutral goal for the year 2025. Holding stocks in fossil fuel companies (oil, gas, and coal) runs counter to that worthy goal. Also, many UC researchers have contributed to the science that concludes that 80% of fossil fuels must be left in the ground in order to avoid the worst damages of climate change. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel companies spend millions every day exploring for new sources of carbon to exploit and sell.

Holdings in fossil fuels pose a financial risk as well. Just as there was a housing bubble, there could also be a carbon bubble, and holdings could become stranded assets—worthless compared with investments in water, wind, and solar.

Divestment is a moral statement more that an attempt to financially damage the fossil fuel industry. It is wrong to profit from the destruction of the planet. While our politicians seem unable to do what needs to be done—such as put carbon taxes into place, build more effective public transportation, and subsidize clean energy—the divestment movement sends a powerful message: get dirty oil money out of politics, and do it now. Move on with slowing climate change.


The eyes of the world will be on the Regents as they vote on divestment at their meeting in San Francisco on September 17. Join a coalition of concerned citizens and UC students, faculty, staff, and alumni at the meeting and help put pressure on the Regents to use their investment portfolio of nearly $7 billion to address climate and sustainability. For more information about attending the September 17 meeting or getting involved in the campaign, visit www.fossilfreeUC.org.

—Kathy Barnhart, Fossil Free UC

Oakland joins forces with neighboring cities to oppose dirty fuels by rail

Canvassers in West Oakland. Photo by Ethan Bruckner.

Canvassers in West Oakland. Photo by Ethan Bruckner.

On June 17, Oakland joined Richmond, Berkeley, and Davis in passing a city council resolution opposing dangerous crude oil from rolling through the city by rail. The resolution was also the first in the state to address railway transport of dirty coal and petroleum coke (or petcoke, a byproduct of refining heavy crude oil that is produced locally) in addition to oil. The city council acted knowing that there is a real threat that the Port of Oakland and Oakland Army Base will build export terminals for these hazardous fossil fuels—and Oakland’s families, businesses, and community interests will not stand for it.

Oakland’s passage of a resolution opposing coal, petcoke, and oil from coming through the city by rail cannot physically stop trains at the city border, as rail is regulated at the federal level. However, this action sets an important policy precedent and is the first step toward ensuring that no fossil-fuel export facilities are built or approved within the city or Port of Oakland’s jurisdiction.

As Big Coal’s profits are squeezed by closures of coal-fired power plants and new EPA regulations, companies are looking for ways to ship the dirty commodity to foreign markets that have more relaxed environmental standards. As reported in the June/July issue of the Yodeler (Dangerous and dirty coal exports threaten Bay Area), major organizing victories squashing export-terminal proposals in Oregon and Washington mean that Big Coal is now targeting California’s ports and marine terminals.

In February of this year, Oakland’s Port Commission unanimously rejected proposals to export coal and petcoke because of serious community concerns about air quality and climate impacts. However, the Port has no official policy prohibiting the handling of dangerous fossil fuels on its property. Anti-export advocates would like to see such a policy adopted in order to permanently block fossil-fuel exports from the Port of Oakland—even if new commissioners were appointed.

Oakland’s other potential export site is the Oakland Army Base Redevelopment Project, also known as Global Oakland. The developer of this project, California Capital Investment Group, is not limited in the commodities it can export through a bulk terminal to be built near the eastern touchdown of the Bay Bridge. This is extremely troubling and we would like to see a binding agreement from California Capital Investment Group to prohibit fossil-fuel exports from the Army Base.

San Francisco has also taken an important step toward banning fossil fuels from its port. In May, the city’s Commission on the Environment passed a resolution stating its intent to work with Port of San Francisco staff and commissioners to draft a policy prohibiting the handling of fossil fuels at its facilities.

The Bay Chapter is working with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project to build a base of opposition to exports in communities and neighborhoods surrounding the Port of Oakland and the Oakland Army Base, and those adjacent to rail lines leading to these properties. On July 6, the community-engagement campaign kicked off with door-to-door canvassing in West Oakland to collect signatures and talk with residents about these threats. The canvassing program will continue throughout the summer. To get involved, contact Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman at jess.dervin-ackerman at sierraclub.org, or visit www.sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org/coal.

AB 2145, renewable energy wrecking ball: down but not out

AB 2145 Rally

Sierra Club intern Vanessa Gerber at a June rally outside PG&E’s Oakland service center

Community Choice energy is under attack—again. Pending legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 2145, was introduced earlier this year with the aim of destroying Community Choice in California. If it had succeeded, it would have been a significant loss to our clean energy future.

Sierra Club California, including many Bay Chapter members, helped remove the most egregious element of the bill as part of a new coalition, Californians for Energy Choice. AB 2145 would have made the monopoly utility the default service provider, forcing Community Choice programs to sign up customers one-by-one. The Senate Energy Committee in June removed this poison provision. However, two other elements in the bill, and a newly added geographical limitation that only applies to Community Choice programs, are still cause for concern.

One untenable remaining element of AB 2145 requires Community Choice programs to set rates five years into the future, while the corporate monopolies are merely required to provide rate projections. This provision is nonsensical on its face, and tantamount to requiring Community Choice programs to possess a working crystal ball.

Another problematic element requires not-for-profit Community Choice programs to be subjected to the same complaint process that exists for the for-profit monopoly utilities. One of the many benefits of Community Choice is that it establishes local control and accountability by virtue of its being run by local elected officials and members of the community. This proposed element imposes an unnecessary bureaucratic layer and expense to the state, and sets up Community Choice programs to be burdened by frivolous complaints that must be addressed at the distant and arcane California Public Utilities Commission.

Shawn Marshall of the Local Energy Aggregation Network (LEAN), a national Community Choice advocacy organization, stated, “While we would’ve preferred the bill to die in Committee, AB 2145 has yielded some upsides for Community Choice in California. The bill has galvanized statewide attention and support for Community Choice that we’ve not seen before. Just a few years ago, Community Choice was a little-known, fringe program that the legislature largely ignored or openly dismissed. Our success against the huge monopoly utility establishment in removing the ‘poison-pill’ provision absolutely changed that.”

What is Community Choice?

Community Choice, enabled by 2002 legislation, empowers local governments to buy and generate electricity for businesses and residents. Marin and Sonoma Counties, the only two California communities that currently offer Community Choice programs, provide their customers cleaner power at lower rates. Community Choice is the most powerful tool under local control to rapidly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a variety of analyses.


The fight for Community Choice continues: AB 2145 will be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, August 4. Please attend the hearing and speak up for Community Choice!

For up-to-date information and other ways you can take action, visit www.no2145.org. If you are interested in doing more to help advance Community Choice in the Bay Area, consider joining the Club’s Community Choice Team. To get involved email Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman at jess.dervin-ackerman at sierraclub.org

—Woody Hastings, Renewable Energy Implementation Manager, Climate Protection Campaign; volunteer coordinator, statewide Community Choice Team