Proposition B - Renewable Energy Bonds

Voter Guide
This measure appeared on the November 2001 San Francisco ballot.


What it does

This ballot measure, introduced by Supervisor Mark Leno, authorizes revenue bonds for city-owned solar energy, renewable energy and energy conservation facilities in a principal amount not to exceed $100 million.

Why it is on the ballot

The city Charter currently authorizes the Board of Supervisors to provide for the issuance of revenue bonds with the approval, of a majority of voters, except for certain types of revenue bonds that do not require voter approval such as housing revenue bonds and airport bonds secured solely by airport revenues. Proposition B requests majority voter approval for this specific type of energy revenue bond.


Those who support this measure state:

  • It will promote solar and other forms of renewable energy, protect the city from price volatility in energy markets and provide for diversity in sources and fuels used to provide electricity while providing predictable city energy budgets. Bond proceeds will be used only for improvements, equipment and facilities for various agencies, departments and enterprises of the city, not for private individuals and businesses.


Those who oppose this measure state:

  • The current period of unsettled economic conditions is not an appropriate time to pass such a measure.

SPUR's analysis

The ballot measure specifies that the cost that city departments, agencies and enterprises would incur over the life of the energy technologies financed by these bonds shall not exceed the amount such entities would have otherwise paid absent the improvements and/or facilities to be financed with the proposed bonds. The principal amount of the proposed energy revenue bonds is not to exceed $100 million.

If Supervisor Ammiano's Charter amendment, Proposition H, is approved by voters in November, it will eliminate the need for this type of revenue bond authorization. If Proposition H fails, such bonds would continue to require majority voter approval.

The proposal allows for future financing flexibility in issuing a particular category of revenue bond debt for public facilities, and the market will dictate financial feasibility before any such debt can be sold. The authority permitted by this ballot measure is already enjoyed by most other Charter cities in California, where the issuance of revenue bonds does not require voter approval. If this authorization is approved, the Board of Supervisors will still have to designate an issuing authority (such as the SF PUC) and approve bond documents for each issuance.

SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition B.