SFPUC suggests rebuilding old power plant

The agency that oversees electricity in San Francisco withdrew its support Tuesday for a plan to build city-owned fossil fuel-burning power plants.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously in favor of an alternative plan to protect The City against blackouts by partly closing and partly refurbishing a privately owned fossil fuel-burning plant at Potrero Hill.

An environmental analysis was provided to commissioners that compared the proposal to retrofit the Mirant-owned plant with the proposal to build a city-owned plant south of the Bayside site.

“In every reasonable comparison of pollution, the retrofit is a better solution for the people of this city,” Commissioner Dick Sklar said during the hearing. “This alternative was presented to our staff on February 13th and we were not even told about it.”

Ed Harrington</a>, who took up duties as general manager of the SFPUC in April, told The Examiner on Tuesday that Mirant hadn’t formally proposed to retrofit its plant in February.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote next week on whether The City will borrow $273 million to build new natural gas-burning power plants, based on the SFPUC’s 2007 approval of the project. The board’s vote has been delayed since May, when Mayor Gavin Newsom asked for time to pursue alternatives.

Members of the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association during the meeting criticized the proposal to retrofit the Mirant plant. Mirant had previously proposed to close the plant and redevelop its land.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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