SFPUC: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The backbone of San Francisco is our horizontal infrastructure; the streets, water, power, and sewer systems that make living in a city possible. Many of these systems function invisibly to residents. They run underground, are walked over, and are turned on with the flick of a switch or turn of a faucet. The infrastructure systems that the City invests in provide basic services and also contribute to City-wide goals of environmental sustainability, pedestrian safety, and a more beautiful and livable city.
It is imperative that the City maintain these assets in a state of good repair given the essential nature of these systems. Proactive maintenance ensures the steady provision of services and is less costly than fixing problems that have degraded beyond repair. High quality service provision is key for advancing equity as utility disruptions or degraded street conditions have disproportionate impacts on low-income people, communities of color, and people with disabilities.
Programs addressed in this chapter are delivered by San Francisco Public Works (PW) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Among the key programs implemented by PW are Street Resurfacing, Sidewalk Repair, and Street Tree Maintenance. SFPUC provides San Francisco with water, power, and wastewater systems, implementing multi-billion dollar programs designed to prolong the life of these assets. Together, these two agencies deliver tangible results that affect the lives of each and every San Franciscan. The projects for this service area are estimated to create over 47,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
Public Works Streets and Rights-of-Way
The City has been able to make significant improvements in its street condition since the 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond Program. The third and final bond sale was completed in the spring of 2016, rounding out the $248 million program dedicated to street resurfacing, streetscape, and traffic signal upgrade projects. Since then, General Fund, State dollars from SB1, and other sources have contributed to continued street condition improvements. San Francisco voters also approved another $41.5 million for the public right-of-way when they approved the 2020 Health and Recovery G.O. Bond. These funds as well as the use of General Fund Debt are necessary to offset the shortage of General Fund for this purpose in the short term due to the COVID-19 crisis. The City's Pavement Condition Index (PCI) score is now at 75, which is considered "good" condition.
San Francisco also continues its commitment to Vision Zero SF and its goal of zero traffic fatalities and critical injuries in San Francisco by 2024. San Francisco’s expenditures in streets and right-of-way infrastructure improve safety in myriad ways. Roadway repaving creates a smoother surface and renews street and crosswalk markings, which improve safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Additionally, the City reaffirms our commitment to safe and accessible paths of travel for people with disabilities by making capital improvements to curb ramps, sidewalks, street crossings, and roadways across the city.
Public Utilities Commission
The SFPUC provides and distributes water to 2.6 million customers, treats wastewater, and supplies electric power to operate Muni streetcars and electric buses, street and traffic lights, and municipal buildings. The SFPUC includes three utility enterprises: Water, Wastewater, and Power.
The Water Enterprise consists of over 389 miles of pipeline, over 74 miles of tunnels, 11 reservoirs, five pump stations, and three water treatment plants located outside of the city (the “Regional Water System”), and over 1,235 miles of pipeline, 11 reservoirs, eight storage tanks, 22 pump stations, eight hydropneumatic stations, and 17 chlorination stations located within city limits (the “In-City Distribution System”).
The Water Enterprise is responsible for the distribution of high quality water to its customer in San Francisco and other Bay Area communities. Hetch Hetchy watershed, located in Yosemite National Park, provides approximately 85% of San Francisco’s total water needs, with the remaining 15% produced by the Alameda and Peninsula watersheds. The drinking water provided is among the purest in the world; the system for delivering that water is almost entirely gravity fed, requiring almost no fossil fuel consumption to move water from the mountains to the tap. Hetchy Water operates, maintains, and improves water and power facilities, smaller dams and reservoirs, water transmission systems, power generation facilities, and power transmission assets.
The Wastewater Enterprise operates and maintains the City's water pollution control plants, pumping stations, and collection system in order to protect public health and the environment. It also maintains the 900-mile long combined sewer system and 27 pump stations that collect sewage and storm water, moving wastewater to treatment plants for eventual discharge into the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The SFPUC is undertaking a Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP) to modernize its systems and help meet its Levels of Service goals. The SSIP is expected to take place over the next 20 years.
The Power Enterprise is responsible for providing reliable, clean, high-quality electric energy to the city. The Power Enterprise’s 100% GHG-free electric supply portfolio consists of hydroelectric power from three power plants in the Sierra Nevada mountains, solar power generated at SFPUC and other City facilities, and bio-methane power produced at SFPUC wastewater treatment facilities.
Power Interconnection Costs
Under the new Wholesale Distribution Tariff (WDT) proposed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) in 2020, all new power interconnections will need to be at primary voltage. This imposes an additional $500,000 for the majority of new interconnections. Any capital project that requires a new, upgraded, or relocated electrical service will be impacted by this requirement. The City continues to protest the new WDT at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Without FERC intervention, this costly new requirement will be officially imposed after April 15, 2021.