Bay Area Council Blog: Energy and Climate Change Archive



With victories and major progress in 2012 on all of the Bay Area Council’s top policy priorities, the Executive Committee this week adopted its 2013 agenda. Thank you to all our members for their valuable and thoughtful input over the past two months in identifying our policy priorities, including:

21st Century Infrastructure. Economic growth and prosperity can’t be sustained without a modern infrastructure, not something California would immediately be accused of having. We will work to identify investment in transportation, energy, water, broadband, airports and other parts California’s vital infrastructure. We’ll also continue our important work on CEQA, which affects all infrastructure.

Public Pensions. We got the ball rolling this year with reform legislation that will end some abuses and lower costs for new public employees, while requiring that all employees contribute toward their retirement benefits in the future.  But there remains massive unfunded liability across many parts of the system, and the work continues, which if unchecked will threaten to continue bankrupting cities and consume ever-growing share of taxpayer dollars.  The work continues.

Healthcare. The state is less than one year away from launching its health benefit exchange. The Bay Area Council will be on the front lines of this process, leading the business community and giving our members a strong voice in how reform rolls out.

China/Trade. We’re focused on opening California’s trade office in China in the coming months and building on our own successes in forging direct economic partnerships with some of China’s leading tech districts.

Higher education. With massive cuts to all levels of higher education over the past decade, California is at serious risk of diminishing one of our greatest competitive advantages and a major source of our high-skilled workers.  We’ll begin with a Bay Area Council Economic Institute white paper examining the state’s higher education Master Plan.

President and CEO Jim Wunderman praised Chair Janet Lamkin’s leadership in bringing sharp focus to the Bay Area Council’s 2012 policy priorities that he credited for our success in:

–Securing early investment to modernize and electrify the Caltrain corridor;
–Winning reforms to the public pension system that will make them more sustainable going forward;
–Helping shape the framework for healthcare reform that keeps the focus controlling costs and improving quality;
–Passing legislation to reopen California’s trade offices and being named to open the first office in China; and,
–Keeping pressure on the Legislature to reform CEQA.

Michael Covarrubias beseeched members to become engaged with Bay Area Council policy staff and committees, observing that it is only through the collective leadership and involvement of our members that we are able to produce the kinds of results we did in 2012.


Momentum Building to Save Hetch Hetchy

Senator Dianne Feinstein generously opened her home last Friday for a gathering convened by the Bay Area Council to raise support for the campaign we’re leading to defeat Proposition F on the November ballot in San Francisco that aims to drain one of California’s largest sources of clean, reliable drinking water. Sen. Feinstein spoke eloquently about the history of Hetch Hetchy and the importance of Hetch Hetchy in supplying pristine water and clean energy to millions of residents and businesses not just in San Francisco, but throughout the Bay Area. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also attended and remarked about the deceptive and dangerous nature of Measure F, and joined Sen. Feinstein in encouraging the 120 assembled guests to contribute to the campaign. Among the many business and community leaders answering the call was the San Francisco Foundation, whose CEO Sandra Hernandez announced a $100,000 contribution to defeat Proposition F. Hernandez, in an article in the San Francisco Business Times this week, said “we want people to understand that water is an important public policy issue, and we think that Proposition F will have a disproportionate negative impact on low-income people to get access to something as simple as clean water.” The event was followed this week with good news from the San Francisco Superior Court, which rejected a challenge by Proposition F proponents who were seeking to change the ballot language to obscure the true intent of the measure to drain Hetch Hetchy. Law firm and Bay Area Council member Hanson Bridgett helped argue against any change. To participate in our Save Hetch Hetchy effort, contact Matt Regan.


Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Headlines Bay Area Council U.S.-China Collaboration Symposium on Smart Cities

Some of the world’s leading companies and foremost experts in designing and building the “smart cities’ of the future will be gathering for the Bay Area Council’s inaugural U.S.-China Collaboration Symposium on September 28 hosted by Marvell Technology in Santa Clara and featuring Governor and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. The all-day symposium will bring together industry leaders in infrastructure, technology, energy, healthcare, urban planning, and sustainable development along with top government officials from the U.S. and China to discuss the need and tremendous opportunities for building smart cities. Among the companies participating in panel discussions throughout the day are the Energy Foundation, GE, Seimens One, Chevron Energy Solutions, VMware, HP, Cisco, HSBC and AECOM. Joining them are government leaders from the Bay Area, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, along with top officials from some of China’s premier high-tech regions. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available.

See the full program of speakers.

See sponsorship and ticket opportunities.


High Speed Rail Decision a Big Win For California, the Bay Area and the Bay Area Council

California and the Bay Area took a gigantic leap forward with the state Senate’s approval on July 6 of funding to begin construction on the initial phase of the nation’s first high speed rail system. The Bay Area Council had worked furiously in the months and weeks leading up to the vote to urge the Legislature’s support of high speed rail and the early investment it promises to electrify and modernize Caltrain, which was among our lead priorities. The Assembly approved high speed rail on July 5. As part of its advocacy push, the Council traveled to Sacramento to meet with key legislators to urge their support. We authored several opinion-editorial pieces that appeared in regional newspapers. We assembled a coalition of major employers that signed letters to the Legislature in support of high speed rail’s early investment in Caltrain. And, along with Rep. Anna Eshoo, we released an economic study showing that the early investment by high speed rail in Caltrain electrification would create almost 9,600 jobs and generate $2.5 billion in economic activity. The final push culminated several years of intensive advocacy and policy work by the Council in which we assisted and supported the development of the blended approach that high speed rail authorities adopted for having their trains share tracks with regional commuter rail lines like Caltrain and the agreement for bringing early high speed rail investment to Caltrain. The Council also advocated for the state ballot measure that voters approved in 2008 to provide almost $10 billion in bond funding for high speed rail.


Group Seeking to Tear Down Hetch Hetchy Launches Petition Drive for November Ballot

The threat of losing the Hetch Hetchy clean water and power system that serves 2.5 million Bay Area residents and businesses took a dangerous step closer to reality with supporters launching a petition drive to qualify a measure for the November ballot in San Francisco. The Bay Area Council has been a strong opponent of past efforts to eliminate Hetch Hetchy and is working with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, our members and a diverse coalition of business and community leaders to fight back the current effort. But recent polling by EMC Research shows that proponents of tearing down Hetch Hetchy can win in November unless there is a well-funded campaign to inform voters about the true intent of the measure, which is positioned under the pleasant guise of increasing water conservation. What the measure doesn’t state is that San Francisco and the Bay Area are already among the most miserly water users in the state, and that removing Hetch Hetchy would cost more than $10 billion, dramatically increase the region’s vulnerability to water shortages and drought and do away with a major source of clean energy.  To participate in the Council’s effort to protect Hetch Hetchy, contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at


Improving Business Climate Tops Council’s 2012 Priorities

Revving up the Bay Area and state economies will lead the Bay Area Council’s top priorities for 2012, with specific focus on reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), creating a healthcare system that places a premium on controlling costs, and winning substantive reforms to our unsustainable public pension system. Those priorities are among five in which the Council will invest considerable time, energy and resources during the coming year. The Council will also focus on modernizing Caltrain, the outdated commuter rail service in the heart of the region’s biggest economic and jobs engine. In addition, the Council will expand its successful initiative to grow trade with China.

The priorities were finalized last week by the Council’s Executive Committee under the leadership of new Council Chair Janet Lamkin, who oversaw a comprehensive review of the Council’s priorities over the past several months. In establishing the priorities, the Executive Committee relied on staff research and analysis of various issues, member surveys, and a series of individual and group meetings.

Reforming CEQA. Despite some sector-specific dynamism, new research by the Council’s Economic Institute shows that the Bay Area economy essentially has been stuck in neutral for the past two decades.  Business leaders overwhelmingly point to burdensome regulations, including CEQA, workers’ compensation laws, and other red tape, as a main source of the problem.  The Council will produce empirical research to support what we know anecdotally.  We will build and lead a coalition of business groups and others in a major five-year effort to reduce the business regulations that have been stifling the Bay Area and California.  A key focus will be on stopping the continuing expansion of the California Environmental Quality Act and returning CEQA to its original scope and intent. To join us in reforming CEQA, please contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at (415) 946-8710 or

Controlling Healthcare Costs. The healthcare cost-escalation crisis continues, harming businesses and consumers alike and jeopardizing our global competitiveness.  The Affordable Care Act created a framework that can be used to ratchet down rising health care spending, via state-based implementation. The Bay Area Council will continue to lead the business community and other allies behind a strategic vision of an affordable, high-quality health care system for California.  We will implement that vision through legislation to be enacted in 2012 and 2013 that will prioritize market-based solutions and technological innovations for reducing healthcare costs and improving patient health outcomes. To join us in controlling healthcare costs, please contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg at

Reforming the Pension System. California’s unfunded pension and liabilities are estimated at $265 – $737 billion.  Add to that unfunded healthcare and pension liabilities at the county, city and special district level, and the numbers soar past the imagination.  In the short term and, especially in the long term, these liabilities mean much less money for services, education and infrastructure.  The Council will work with Governor Jerry Brown and proponents of a potential 2012 ballot measure to ensure that California reforms and manages public pensions in a fiscally stable manner. To join us in reforming pensions, please contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan at (415) 946-8710 or

Modernizing Caltrain. Surveys of business leaders and residents alike consistently cite traffic as the Bay Area’s top problem.  Congestion on Highway 101 between San Jose and San Francisco – our country’s most economically productive corridor – has particularly escalated.  Modernizing Caltrain would substantially increase its ridership and take thousands of cars a day off of Highway 101. Unfortunately, the modernization project has partial but incomplete funding.  The Council will lead an effort to build public and political support  to secure final funding and clear other hurdles, allowing the project to be completed, thereby reducing some of our region’s worst traffic. To join us in modernizing Caltrain, please contact Policy Vice President Michael Cunningham at (415) 946-8706 or

Expanding China Trade. Global trade is among the biggest drivers of Bay Area economic activity. Through our existing relationship with the Shanghai Yangpu District and a new large-scale “Technology Park” opportunity in Shanghai, we will continue to expand the presence and clout of Bay Area businesses in China with a physical landing pad, and attract more Chinese companies and investments to our region. To join us in increasing trade with China, please contact Director of Global Initiatives Bing Wei at (415) 946-8270 or

In addition to these strategic priorities, the Council will continue to collaborate with other partners in supporting a range of key issues, including cybersecurity legislation, high speed rail, science and technology education, water and energy efficiency, and protecting the Hetch Hetchy water system, among others.



Chalk this up as one business attraction policy the state got right.  According to a report released by the Brookings Institution, in partnership with the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area now supports 70,679 clean tech jobs (51,811 in San Francisco and 18,686 in San Jose).  In San Jose, the largest segment is wind energy with 3,000 jobs, and the fastest growing segments were Fuel Cells, where employment grew 24.7 percent in the past seven years, and Wind Energy, where employment grew 17 percent.  In the San Francisco-Oakland area, the largest employment is Professional Energy Services with 7,532 jobs.

Likely due to the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act, and various tax credits and incentives, the Bay Area now leads the nation in clean tech jobs, with eleven percent of all US clean tech jobs located in the region.  Between 2003 and 2010, clean tech jobs grew by an average annual rate of 5.4 percent in San Francisco and 12.6 percent in San Jose, far outpacing the 4.2% pace of job creation for jobs nationally.

These jobs help with a challenged part of our workforce.  More than two-thirds are middle wage “green collar” jobs that offer better pay for low and middle-skilled works than jobs in the economy as a whole. A high percentage – 26 percent – are in manufacturing, well above the 9% figure for all jobs nationally.

Our region now exports more than $1 billion in clean tech exports, including building control systems and electric vehicles.  Read the report here.

Press Release: Business Council on Climate Change and Bay Area Council Release Electric Vehicle Guide for Businesses

Today, the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3) and Bay Area Council jointly announced and released the new guide, Electrify Your Business: A Guide for Moving Forward With Electric Vehicles, which aims to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles and infrastructure in the Bay Area by providing businesses with easy-to-follow steps to become “EV ready.”  Specifically, the guide helps enable local corporations, retailers, or any company with a car spot to install an electric vehicle charging station.

“This is the first report to specifically address the value of electric vehicles for businesses,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “It is a great tool for forward-thinking companies, and will help position our region as the world leader for EV infrastructure and deployment.”

The guide was developed and led by a team of BC3 members and executives from SF Environment, PG&E, and other leading Bay Area companies.

“This comprehensive guide provides information on the business case for electric vehicle programs and charging stations, financing, incentives, infrastructure and energy,” said Mike Calise, CEO of EVadvise and lead author of the guide. “It includes a practical check-list to help businesses take action, rapidly achieve results and reap tangible benefits.”

“Our studies indicate that the Bay Area will lead the nation in early electric vehicle purchasers and drivers,” said Dev Crews, of Luminesa and Mobility Revolution. “It is our aim to inspire and enable the businesses seeking to reach these forward-thinkers. Installing an EV charger station is a highly visible way to demonstrate your sustainability commitment.”

“Electric vehicles represent the innovation and ecological responsibility our community is known for, and we applaud the leadership demonstrated here today,” said Melanie Nutter, Director of SF Environment. “The city of San Francisco is committed to ensuring that our residents, visitors and businesses will have the infrastructure in place to recharge their cars, as we become a model demonstrating a new vision for the future of clean transportation.”

Electrify Your Business is available as a free download at

PDF Press Release


Global Green Cities Conference Streaming Live

Starting tonight, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute will hold Global Green Cities of the 21st Century: Evolving Models for Sustainable Urban Design, a symposium on green urban design.  With the goal of fostering sustainable urban development and design, the landmark symposium will shed light on the development of green cities and bring together thought-leaders on this topic from all over the world. Conference speakers include The Hon. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor of California, The Hon. Young-gil Song, Mayor of Incheon, Isabel Dedring, Environmental Advisor, Mayor’s Office of London and Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President and Chief Globalisation Officer, Cisco.

You can hear about the conference on this morning’s KQED Forum here and watch the conference streaming live tonight and tomorrow at


Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund Awards Economic Institute $15,000

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is pleased to announce its second year of partnership with the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund in support of work through its initiative, Climate Bay Area.  The Fund awarded $15,000 for Climate Bay Area to continue strengthening the strategic focus, alignment and effectiveness of the Bay Area’s numerous programs, policies and initiatives working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Bay Area was formed in July of 2009 by the Joint Policy Committee (JPC),[1] and has its goals to:

  • support synergy of the climate policies of the four regional planning agencies with regional local government, private, other non-governmental initiatives;
  • bring critically needed scale, leverage and capacity to programs and approaches with potentially high impact; and
  • foster collaboration, develop new partnerships, and present a stronger, more cohesive voice on climate- and energy-related issues to decision-makers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

“This is an initiative of which we’re proud,” said Sean Randolph, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Climate Bay Area brings a regional vision and unifying leadership to the work of meeting climate change policy targets through entrepreneurial programs. We are helping drive discussions with the Bay Area’s most influential climate change leaders and laying the requisite groundwork and facilitating change by creating approaches and tools that work. We’re delighted to have the Goldman Fund supporting us again this year.”

For additional information on the Climate Bay Area project, please contact Sean Randolph.

To support the climate change work of the Council, contact Chandra Alexandre.

[1] The JPC is a formal body for addressing shared policy priorities of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).