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San Francisco Clean Energy Act, Proposition H (November 2008)

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A San Francisco Clean Energy Act, Proposition H ballot question was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in San Francisco, where it was defeated.

Like statewide Proposition 7, Proposition H would have imposed new requirements for how much energy would have to come from renewable sources.[1]

The measure called on the city to:

  • Produce more than half of its energy through renewable sources within a decade. However, it defines "renewable sources" as simply non-nuclear, as opposed to the State of California's more stringent definition.
  • Explore a move toward city control of its power. There is no mandate to stop a takeover of private utilities by the board, however, if the study does not result in a recommendation for a public power takeover.
  • Fulfill 51 percent of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2017, rising to 75 percent by 2030, and 100 percent "or the greatest amount technologically feasible or practicable" by 2040.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the original sponsor of the charter amendment, said it represented "what San Francisco's green energy should strive for." Mirkarimi said it was "not a hostile takeover" of private power companies, but represented "what should be the indigenous right of San Franciscans." The primary motivation behind the measure was the belief that Pacific Gas & Electric doesn't buy enough renewable-sourced energy to provide electricity in the city.

  • 11.4% of PG&E's electricity came from renewable sources in 2007.
  • Under current law, the amount of energy PG&E buys from renewable sources must increase to 20% by 2010.
  • Proposition H would require the city to get 51 percent of electricity from renewables by 2017.
  • Proposition H would require the city to get 75 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030.[2]

Election results

Proposition H
Defeatedd No211,68161.38%
Yes 133,214 38.62%
These final, certified, results are from the San Francisco elections office.


Supporters included the San Francisco Board of Education, San Francisco Green Party, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Bay ViewService Employees International Union (SEIU) Joint Council, Pride at Work, San Francisco Tomorrow, ACORN, Senior Action Network and the Gray Panthers.


Dianne Feinstein opposed Proposition H, as did then-mayor Gavin Newsom. The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized against the measure.[3]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Proposition H: "Shall the City: evaluate making the City the primary provider of electric power in San Francisco; consider options to provide energy to San Francisco residents, businesses and City departments; mandate deadlines for the City to meet its energy needs through clean and renewable energy sources; establish a new Office of the Independent Ratepayer Advocate to make recommendations about utility rates to the City's Public Utilities Commission; and allow the Board of Supervisors to approve the issuance of revenue bonds to pay for any public utility facilities without voter approval?"[4]

Path to the ballot

Proposition H was referred to the ballot on July 22, 2008 by a 7-4 vote of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

In favor: Supervisors Ammiano, Daly, Dufty, Maxwell, Mirkarimi, Peskin and Sandoval.

Against: Supervisors Alioto-Pier, Chu, Elsbernd and McGoldrick.

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