November/December 1995 ~ No.19 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Service Matters ia a publication of the Association of Bay Area Governments, the planning and services agency for the San Francisco Bay Area's 9 counties and 100 cities.



ABAG Fights Utility's Opposition Campaign

ABAG's Power Purchasing Pool is surging ahead with its program to purchase natural gas in bulk for cities, counties, and special districts in the Bay Area.

To date, nearly 80 entities have requested billing data from PG&E - the first step to reducing next year's gas bill. Meanwhile, ABAG is working on the bid process with the goal of delivering natural gas to participating members at a discounted price in the first quarter of 1996. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are going out in November, the bid results will be received in December, and ABAG will award the contract to the lowest bidder in January.

Despite high-level overtures of support, PG&E community representatives have been actively working to undermine the ABAG power pool at the local level. Numerous members report that PG&E representatives have been working to dissuade their participation by implying that the power pool is illegal, by disputing the savings estimates, by claiming that better prices can be obtained elsewhere, or by making false assumptions regarding the legal obligations of participants. In addition, several members report that all references to electricity-buying were removed from power pool resolutions at the insistence of PG&E. As one city manager in Marin County said, "It's time for PG&E to devote less time trying to prevent local government savings, and more time becoming cost-effective and competitive."

Regardless of the obstacles, ABAG is committed to helping members achieve savings in their natural gas purchases.

When the lowest bid to supply gas is determined, ABAG will distribute to each interested jurisdiction a proposal comparing PG&E rates with ABAG power pool rates. And yes, for those who have been told otherwise, the proposal will compare ABAG rates to the "new, lower rates" proposed by PG&E.

After receiving the price comparison, all prospective participants may accept or reject the ABAG proposal. Those members who see a savings through the ABAG power pool and choose to participate will only be asked to commit to the program for one year.

Meanwhile, ABAG continues to monitor the pending deregulation of electricity and to advocate for an option which will allow aggregate purchases by local governments at the earliest possible date.

Participation in the power pool for natural gas and the future pool for electricity will be mutually exclusive; members need not join one to be eligible for the other.

For more information on joining the power pool, please call Patty Spangler at 510/464-7933 or e-mail


Subregional Strategies Address Local Planning
and Development Issues

Two exciting and innovative subregional planning projects are nearing completion in Sonoma County and in the East Bay's Tri-Valley.

Sponsored and funded by ABAG and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, these subregional planning projects are voluntary pilot programs dedicated to achieving consensus among neighboring jurisdictions on vital planning, development and conservation issues.

Five topical issues have been addressed in planning strategies prepared for both subregions:

  1. Urban Development
  2. Natural Resources
  3. Transportation
  4. Housing
  5. Economic Vitality

The Tri-Valley Planning Committee, which includes the mayors of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon, and Supervisors from Alameda and Contra Costa counties, met weekly throughout the summer and has approved a draft Tri-Valley Subregional Planning Strategy. The Tri-Valley Strategy was reviewed at four public workshops in mid-October and is scheduled for final adoption in November.

The Sonoma County Mayors and Councilmembers Association, with a representative from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, served as the governing board for the Sonoma Subregional Planning Project. Planning directors from the nine incorporated cities and the county (with support from ABAG staff and a private consultant) also met regularly over the summer and have prepared a Draft Subregional Issues and Policy Document for Sonoma County.

A subset of the governing board provided crucial policy directives during the month of October. This working group was asked to review the draft document and indicate support or concerns for reconsideration. A facilitator was to guide the working group in developing consensus on the outstanding issues. The final document was slated for presentation to the Board of Supervisors on November 9.

The Tri-Valley project was driven by discussion among elected officials, whereas the Sonoma project relied more extensively on the initial involvement and expertise of planning directors. Both the process and the products of these subregional planning projects will be reviewed for use as models for other Bay Area subregions.

The challenge of subregional planning is to devise a process that respects both the individual and shared characteristics of a subregion, while effectively addressing the local impact of regional issues such as traffic congestion, air quality, needed housing, and jobs.

The outstanding component is, of course, implementation. How can a voluntary, cooperative plan be activated without mandates? The greatest incentive to subregional agreement is likely to be one that is aimed at avoiding mandates being handed down from the state.


Focus on Future Growth