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California Public Utilities Commission approves
PG&E Hunters Point power plant closure

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Adam Martin Bay City News Service

March 15, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO(BCN) Pacific Gas and Electric Co. today announced that it will close the aging Hunters Point power plant this spring.

In 1998 the utility announced plans to close the gas-powered plant. Since then it has been working to complete nine electrical transmission projects specified by the California Independent Systems Operator, which would allow for the plant's closure, spokesman Paul Moreno said today.

With the completion of the final two projects nearing, the utility announced that the California Public Utilities Commission today approved PG&E's request to close the plant. "Every step in this process has required some layer of CPUC approval,'' Moreno said.

Since the utility had been working with the commission on its transmission projects, it was fully aware of PG&E's plan to close the plant.

"Everyone in the room was in favor of the plant's closing,'' Moreno said of today's commission vote.

PG&E's final two projects include the Jefferson Martin transmission line, which will bring power to San Francisco from the Jefferson substation in Redwood City. They also include the Potrero-Hunters Point cable project, a 2.5-mile cable that connects the Potrero substation and Hunters point substation.

"The plant's closing is condition-specific, not time-specific,'' Moreno said. He said the utility expects to be able to meet the conditions set by the ISO this spring.

The ISO currently requires PG&E operate the plant under the "reliability-must-run'' contract, Moreno said, but will release the plant from that contract once the last of the nine transmission projects are completed and tested. After it's released, the utility can choose to close or to continue to operate the plant. We won't go back on our word,'' Moreno said. "I don't think even the strongest cynics think we won't close it.''

Moreno said that the plant operates in full compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations. "Bear in mind that when we built that plant out there in 1929 there was nothing out there,'' he continued.

As the neighborhood grew and businesses and homes were built closer and closer to the plant, local residents started calling for the plant's closure. Linda Richardson, chair of the Close It! coalition, said in a statement, "On July 9, 1998, members of the Bayview Hunters Point community, including myself, signed an agreement to close the Hunters Point Power Plant. The closing of the plant will mark a historic day of immense proportions.''

PG&E shut down two of the plant's four generating units in 2000, Moreno said. One of the remaining two in operation is a main generator and one is a "peaker,'' or backup generator. Moreno said the main unit can generate about 163 megawatts at its full capacity, while the Jefferson-Martin transmission project alone can carry 400 megawatts, enough to power 300,000 homes, to the city.

Moreno said the utility does not currently have plans for the plant site. "When we close the plant a contractor will demolish and remove all structures. The substation next to the plant will remain, but it has no emissions and does not generate power,'' he said.

The utility might sell the land, Moreno said, at which point the city of San Francisco would be given first right of refusal to buy the land for the price of the highest bid.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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