Is SF in *Violation* of the Raker Act? : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Like many others, I have read numerous articles in the SF Bay Guardian on their claim that SF is in *violation* of the Raker Act. Is this correct? According to UCLA historian Norris Hundley, the federal government in about 1945 "proclaimed SF the official retailer of Hetch Hetchy power. In practice, nothing really changed. Technically, the city distributed the power, but it did so in name only by paying PG&E a handsome consideration for use of the company's distribution system." The Great Thirst, p. 189. Does this mean that SF is *not* in violation of the Raker Act?

-- Michael Williams (, November 09, 1997


Response to Is SF in *Violation* of the Raker Act

Your inquiry has been forwarded to me.

Norris Hundley is correct. The Bay Guardian may also be correct. Whether or not SF is in violation is a matter of judicial interpretation, and even there the record is somewhat murky.

Here is my understanding of what happens. The power enters the PG&E grid somewhere in the East Bay, at the point where the power line from Hetch Hetchy ends. (SF voters in the 1930s turned down several bond issues to extend the line to this side of the bay.) PG&E then credits the city with that amount of power for the operation of all city electrical uses, including the Muni. Any additional Hetch Hetchy power, beyond that used by the city itself, is theoretically sold to irrigation districts in the central valley. Thus, the city does not compete with PG&E as a provider of electricity to city residents, but neither is the Hetch Hetchy power sold to a private-owned utility.

-- Robert W. Cherny (, November 26, 1997.

Response to Is SF in *Violation* of the Raker Act

The Raker Bill - 1913 - This is the Raker Bill, which eventually became the Raker Act, granting the city of San Francisco the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a reservoir, and the unfulfilled right of municipalized electricity for the city. This was the last of several Senate hearings held on this contentious issue between 1909 and 1913.

-- rp (, November 26, 1997.

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