Power plant plan is losing its steam

A power plant in The City’s southeast that has long been targeted for closure could remain open and be refurbished to reduce its air and water pollution.

On Tuesday, a majority of the Board of Supervisors, for the second week in a row, agreed to postpone votes on a city plan to borrow

$273 million to build less-polluting natural-gas-burning power plants intended to replace the older plant in Potrero Hill.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd made the request to delay for another two weeks and added new conditions to the proposal to build new plants.

Alternative plans could be adopted, under Elsbernd’s amendments, such as the refurbishment of the existing Mirant Corp.-owned power plant, if a three-month study concludes a different plan would increase city control over electricity, improve the environment and create other benefits.

“Let’s just focus on the policy,” Elsbernd told his colleagues. “This has been an issue that unfortunately has been flooded with politics.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Mirant have held discussions recently in an effort to avoid moving forward with the plan to build the new fossil power plants, according to Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard.

“The option involves retrofitting the existing plant to provide an adequate, reliable and clean source of power,” Ballard said in an e-mail.

The plan would see the power plant converted to run solely on natural gas and its dirtiest generator would be shut down, according to Ballard.

Officials, including Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and southeast Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, have supported the plan for new power plants in the southeast as part of an effort to shutter Mirant’s dirtier plant.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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