San Francisco is wagering $19.5 million that 90,000 of its residents are willing to foot a small increase in their monthly electricity bill to maximize their renewable energy portfolio.

The plan, called CleanPowerSF isn’t new. For eight years, the City by the Bay has been working to pull it all together. Now, San Francisco will join Marin County as the only municipalities in the state that offer residents a community aggregation program. Those programs – established under a state law in 2002 – allow local agencies to choose the sources of renewable energy. Currently, PG&E is the only major provider of power to San Francisco.

To make the program viable, the City will need to have 90,000 residents stay in the program. As many as 375,000 power customers will automatically be enrolled in the program. They will have the option to opt-out, but based upon market research, those who are selected to participate from the beginning are largely in support of green energy.

The hopes is that the program can cut 10 times as much carbon emissions as it already has.

Should support and participation in the program wane or fall short of projected break-even numbers, the City will be on the hook for the difference – up to $15 million.

One challenge standing between the San Francisco plan and outright success is a program sponsored by PG&E that uses renewable-energy credit transfers – instead of true green energy production – to offer a renewable option. Some see that plan as nothing more than an attempt to sabotage local efforts to boost renewable energy through other sources.

Read the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle.