Reparations for Bayview Hunters Point

Silver-Terrace, Reparations for Bayview Hunters Point, Culture Currents
Imagine replacing your PG&E bill, now averaging around $200 a month, with one for $10 a month. This is the Silver Terrace neighborhood in the Bayview, but whether you live here or on Kiska Road or Shafter Avenue, we can all save lots of money and improve our health with this electricity conversion reparations plan.

by Barry Hermanson

In early May of this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors “approved a task force that will study financial compensation, community programs and other ways to make reparations to the descendants of slaves, becoming the largest city to take such a step,”.

“The committee will seek input from the African American community on ways to improve education, housing, violence prevention, workforce development and other areas.” A report from the task force is due in two years.

A recent article in the San Francisco Examiner was entitled, “How the Bayview is battling toxic air – The neighborhood has been a pollution dumping ground for decades.” … “(A) wastewater treatment plant, a former Navy nuclear research facility turned Superfund site; a PG&E power plant on the shoreline, and a slew of industrial activities such as factories, bus yards and metal scrap lots.”

World leaders recently met in Glascow, Scotland, to discuss and take action on climate change. The world continues to pump too much CO2 into the environment. The planet is getting hotter and drier. The British Broadcasting Corp. reports: “There are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country.” 

In addition to the pollution Bayview community members face every day when leaving their homes, if they are burning gas in their stoves and furnaces, indoor air is unhealthy as well. “The average U.S. household produces 7.5 tons of CO2 equivalents per year.” 

“President Biden’s existing goals to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” according to a White House briefing room statement. Massive public and private investments are needed to meet these goals.

Households currently pay $200 per month to PG&E. Their monthly payments would decrease to $10.

On April 22, the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report entitled: “Decarbonizing Residential Buildings by Eliminating Natural Gas Usage.” “Natural gas combustion in buildings currently accounts for approximately 38 percent of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions according to the San Francisco Department of the Environment.” 

The cost to retrofit all homes in San Francisco from gas to electric “ranges from $3.5 to $5.9 billion.” 240,000 housing units. $14,000 to $35,000 per unit. In 2018, the rooftop solar installed to fully power my all-electric home on the foggy west side of San Francisco was less than $20,000. My PG&E bill today is $10. That’s the cost to keep a line connected to the grid. 

In March, the Mercury News reported: “The monthly bill for the average customer who receives both electricity and gas service from PG&E is jumping to $196.95 a month effective March 1.” How much will rates jump next year or the year after that? 

“According to the 2005-2009 American Community Survey (ACS), the Bayview district is estimated to have 10,540 housing units.” 

The upfront cost to convert 10,540 homes in Bayview Hunters Point to all electric is a little over $500 million. Households currently pay $200 per month to PG&E. Their monthly payments would decrease to $10.

A $500 million gift from the feds or state? California is expected to have a surplus of $31 billion next year. It is Christmas time. Will Santa bring the Bayview clean indoor air?

While the Bayview Hunters Point community waits for a gift, it needs financing to turn off the gas now. At a cost of $50,000 per housing unit, PG&E bills for gas and electricity averaging $196 per month can be replaced by $133 payments (0 percent interest) to a city, state or federal financing agency. 

The Bayview Hunters Point community could be the first in the nation to turn off the gas.

Barry Hermanson is a Green Party of California Coordinating Committee member and a former small business owner. Contact him at or 415-255-9494.