Mayor's Office reaches power-plant deal

Potrero Hill’s aging and polluting power plant would shut down and be replaced by a new and cleaner one under a proposal backed by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday as the Mayor’s Office struck a deal with the plant’s owner, assuring its closure in exchange for being able to redevelop the site.

Opponents of the proposal to build a $230 million combustion turbine power plant said renewable energy sources and not another a fuel-burning plant should be pursued. Supporters said a new plant is the only way to satisfy state requirements to be able to close down the older, more polluting Mirant Potrero plant.

The Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday supporting the proposal, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote on the project today. If approved, the SFPUC would finalize a contract with Illinois-based J-Power USA Development Co. to build the new plant in Potrero Hill. The board would vote on the contract next month.

The City must have an alternative energy source of equal capacity to shut down the Mirant plant, according to the state regulatory agency, the California Independent System Operator.

Opponents also worried that the new plant would not necessarily result in the Mirant plant’s closure. Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin announced during the board meeting that after ongoing negotiations between the Mayor’s Office and the Mirant corporation “The City reached agreement a few minutes ago … that will guarantee closure” once the new plant is operational. The City has agreed to work with Mirant to create a development plan for the 27-acre site, and expedite the planning process while also waiving a certain amount of the planning fees. A final contract would come before the board for approval.

Supervisors Chris Daly, Michela Alioto-Pier and Ross Mirkarimi opposed the resolution. Daly said he was not convinced a new plant was necessary to close the Mirant plant.

Alioto-Pier said, “We deserve to have the cleanest alternative.” SFPUC staff said renewable energy sources would not satisfy state requirements to be able to shut down the Mirant plant.

IN OTHER ACTION

CONDUCT PROPOSAL VOTED DOWN: A code of conduct introduced by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier following controversial comments made during a public hearing about Mayor Gavin Newsom by Supervisor Chris Daly was shot down in a 6-5 vote. Supervisors Alioto-Pier, Gerardo Sandoval, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu opposed it.

ALCOHOL AT GROCERY STORES: In a 9-1 vote, legislation was approved allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol as an incentive to open up in five troubled neighborhoods, including the North of Market and Third Street areas, which have bans on the issuance of alcohol permits. Supervisor Chris Daly opposed it.

APPOINTMENTS CONFIRMED: An 11-0 vote confirmed Mayor Gavin Newsom’s appointment of Joyce Hicks as the director of the Office of Citizen Complaints.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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