The San Francisco Chronicle is usually pretty quick to come to the City's defense when it comes to the proposal to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park- even though it supports almost ever other environmental initiative in the state.
The Chronicle is entitled to its view as is the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The Commission, however, is "not entitled to its own facts" - as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan might say.
Contrary to the claims in Mr. Kelly's letter, the system would not be "dismantled". For example, there is no reason hydropower generation at Moccasin would substantially change.
Photo: Verplanck Consulting
Yesterday I responded to a letter to the Chronicle editor that was sent by Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly, and proposed a public discussion of the costs and benefits of restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Both letters are copied below and also posted online
. I'll let you know if and when I get a reply.
August 3, 2018
Mr. Harlan Kelly, General Manager
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Re: Your letter published in the SF Chronicle, July 29, 2018
Dear Mr. Kelly:
It is easy to understand why the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission opposes the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. San Francisco pays only $30,000 per year to use Hetch Hetchy as a storage tank - certainly a good deal from the PUC perspective.
Restore Hetch Hetchy, however, disputes numerous claims in your letter. These claims significantly overstate the cost of restoring the valley while keeping San Francisco's Regional Water System whole with respect to both water supply and clean electricity production.
I propose a public dialogue in which we can discuss the value of restoration, and what the various elements necessary to make it possible would cost. Such a dialogue should include a variety of interested parties, including representatives of the State and Federal governments.
Please let me know if you are interested. Restore Hetch Hetchy would appreciate a cooperative discussion on the merits.
Cc: The Honorable Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
The Honorable John Laird, California Secretary of Natural Resources
Nicole Sandkulla, CEO/GM of BAWSCA
San Francisco Chronicle
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
July 30, 2018
Bad idea to drain reservoir
Regarding "Hetch Hetchy plan stirs little worry" (Bay Area, July 26): Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is the main source of drinking water for 2.7 million people in four Bay Area counties. That's why our ratepayers just invested $4.8 billion dollars on our Water System Improvement Program over the past 10 years to make sure it remains reliable well into the future.
Dismantling this system would have major financial, environmental and water supply consequences. First, at an estimated cost of $10 billion, it would cost more than twice the amount of money spent to improve the system to take it down. Second, this system generates 100 percent greenhouse-gas-free electricity. We would lose 410 megawatts of clean hydropower generation, equal to powering more than 400,000 homes. Finally, the loss of the dam would mean a loss of more than 117 billion gallons of high-quality water storage. In times of global climate change and increasing droughts, this would be particularly foolish.
No matter how many times they've been told no, this group will go to any lengths to destroy our precious drinking water system. In fact, just this month, the Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld a decision to dismiss a lawsuit pushing to drain Hetch Hetchy. Because it's a bad idea. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to protect the Bay Area's vital water resources.
Harlan Kelly Jr., general manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission