Herrera, Mirant Reach Accord
to Close Potrero Power Plant in 2010

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in Politics

Published on August 13, 2009 with 17 Comments

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
Photo by Luke Thomas

From the Office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera

August 13, 2009

Energy Giant Also Agrees to Pay $1 Million to City
for Pediatric Asthma Program, Neighborhood Improvements

SAN FRANCISCO – City Attorney Dennis Herrera has reached an agreement with Mirant to permanently shutter the company’s Potrero power plant by the end of 2010, and to secure the Atlanta-based energy giant’s unprecedented commitment to join the City in actively pushing for the plant’s closure should state or federal energy regulators attempt to delay it. Under terms of the agreement signed by Mirant officials today, the company will also pay at least $1 million to the City to help address pediatric asthma in nearby communities and to initiate other mitigations in neighborhoods adjacent to the fossil-fueled facility. Mirant will pay another $100,000 to the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office for legal fees and costs.

The groundbreaking accord follows nearly a decade of often bitterly contentious legal, political and regulatory maneuvering by Herrera, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, the S.F. Public Utilities Commission and many other community leaders to finally close the City’s last remaining large power plant. Efforts in recent years to speed the closure of the nearly 50-year-old facility have included opposing the renewal of the state permit for its antiquated “once-through” cooling system, and working to install cleaner, municipally-owned replacement generators that had been secured in a 2002 legal settlement to meet state-mandated electricity generation requirements. Earlier this year, Herrera also filed a civil lawsuit against Mirant for violating the City’s Unreinforced Masonry Buildings ordinance at the Potrero site.

“This is a major step forward for a San Francisco that will be cleaner, greener and healthier because of what we’ve achieved today,” said Herrera. “Notwithstanding the occasionally unkind words we’ve exchanged in years past, I must today commend Mirant for its cooperative spirit and forward-thinking leadership. In working with us to forge an agreement that few would have thought possible even a few months ago, Mirant ultimately proved its commitment to being a good neighbor and a willing partner. This is testimony to their hard work as well as ours, and it is vindication for the efforts of all the leaders throughout the years who’ve worked to close this power plant. I am particularly grateful to Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, former Board President Aaron Peskin, PUC General Manager Ed Harrington, and former PUC General Manager Susan Leal for being such effective partners every step of the way. My own office also lent considerable expertise throughout the case, but I’m especially thankful to Chief Assistant City Attorney Jesse Smith and Energy Team Chief Theresa Mueller for their tireless work.”

Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreement, which must be approved by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom, Mirant has agreed to permanently and irrevocably shut down the entire plant — including the large once-through cooling plant known as Unit 3 and all three combustion turbines known as Units 4-6 — as soon as the plant is no longer needed for reliability purposes. Mirant further committed to additional steps to ensure the plant’s closure by the end of 2010, including to actively support the City’s efforts with the California Independent System Operator and other government regulators to approve shuttering the facility by Dec. 31, 2010, and to refrain from seeking renewal of its “Reliability Must-Run” contract with CalISO beyond that year. In exchange, the City has agreed to support interim operating permits for the plant through the end of 2010 if the plant is required to continue operating, consistent with Mirant’s plant shut down obligation.

Mirant agreed that once the plant is fully closed, the property will not be used for fossil fuel generation under any reuse plan for the site — a provision that will be binding on successive owners of the parcel. The City has agreed to priority processing of Mirant’s reuse plan.

Potrero Power Plant

Mirant and the City also agreed to a stipulated injunction involving the City’s UMB Ordinance lawsuit and Mirant’s counter-suit. Within five business days after court approval of the stipulated injunction resolving the outstanding litigation, Mirant will pay the City the nonrefundable, all cash sum of $1,100,000. Of that amount, the City will use $1,000,000 for measures that include pediatric asthma education and remediation programs and neighborhood improvements. The remaining $100,000 will reimburse the City for some of the fees and costs of the City Attorney’s Office relating to its UMB ordinance lawsuit and the negotiation of the settlement agreement.

PDF copies of the full settlement agreement and accompanying exhibits are available on the City Attorney’s Web site.


Comments for Herrera, Mirant Reach Accord
to Close Potrero Power Plant in 2010
are now closed.

  1. Herrera is merely acting like a candidate for mayor.

  2. Eric,

    I respect the Greens as a think tank. Not as a party. And, as for insults? I’ve said nothing more strongly about you than that I think you’ve been duped. I’ve been trying to be nice to you here because I respect you. If you want to take it to another level I suggest you bring your lunch.


  3. Wait… Let me get this straight…

    H Brown.

    H Brown…… is complaining about being …insulted…

    Brother, if you can’t stand the heat, you’d best not build the kitchen in the first place..

    and H, the SF Green Party of course gets no donations from politicians or corporations in any form.

  4. yeah right,

    You lose, you quit. Give me one of your gems. You’ve: “gone through it with much smarter people than you”. Who would that be? You disproved none of my assertions. You just insulted me.


  5. H,

    You apparently don’t watch very many LAFCo hearings or else you would know that Eric, myself, and a small handful of activists have kept Community Choice Aggregation alive over the past year and a half. I shudder to think that you are now going to suggest that this means PG&E wants CCA to go forward. Quiz: Do you know what San Francisco’s CCA program is called?

    Just so you’re crystal-clear on what I’ve told you: no money from elected officials (can you read? they sent proclamations saluting Brightline’s work), no money from PG&E, no money from any of the other interests that both wanted and did not want a new dirty power plant in the Bayview to replace the Potrero Power Plant (and boy could I tell stories). Why? To remain independent and able to pursue work that might otherwise “work against their interests.”

    You’re the last person in the City I’ve gone through this exercise with, and I’ve gone through it with people much smarter than you. While I expect you’ll never be satisfied, I don’t have time to keep playing reindeer games with you in light of the serious work ahead.

    This has become an instance in which your lovable obnoxious nonsense has lost its lovability.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend,


  6. boys,

    So, you’re not supported by PG&E? Your money comes from Newsom, Leno and Ma? Why not post ALL of the contributors? That one check from PG&E for $45,000 is a doozie. Can any one of you imagine PG&E giving that kind of money to someone whom they know will work against their interests? Darlene Chiu, PG&E’s spokesperson who gave you a clean bill of health? Her previous job was working for Newsom coordinating PG&E’s interests from inside the Mayor’s office. Of course she’s going to cover for you.

    I simply don’t believe you Josh. I think you are a classic astro-turfer who has never been sincere. I know that Brooks has and simply has too much pride to admit you’ve duped him.

    Eric’s not alone in being co-opted. When the Mayor ripped off Healthy Saturdays and made it Healthy Sundays he gave the contract to run it to Susan King. Marie Harrison got a contract from Gavin through the Dept. of the Environment and Espanola as I mentioned got free solar.

    Adam Werbach who headed the Sierra Club now works for Wal-Mart. The Bicycle Coalition, Livable Cities and the Sierra Club share funding from a secret list (“We’re a private non-profit and don’t have to tell the source of our funds.” Susan told me).

    Yeah, I’m a pretty good researcher and I have time on my hands. You guys know all about local energy? Why don’t you answer the question I posed about who gets the TransBay Cable with Babcock and Brown in the toilet?

    Don’t stress yourself. I know the two of you must have burned up your energy simply calling me names. The answer is that the cable is the property of the town of Pittsburg, CA.. Yeah, they’re responsible for maintaining a nearly 400mw power source. Imagine that. But, the rights to transfer power and communications over that bundled set of cables? For the next 35 years it belongs to a consortium that includes PG&E tentacles. It is no accident that the plans for the cable show power converted to AC going directly into a PG&E distribution site adjoining this last dinosaur fossil fuel plant. It’s funny if you think about it. After spending a hundred years telling San Franciscans that the City couldn’t maintain a distribution network, now they’ve handed the newest network to a hick town in the East Bay. But, as said, they maintain distribution rights. I’d imagine PG&E’s next step will be to ask San Franciscans to take charge of their lines and sub-stations throughout the City. They don’t keep them up anyway as evinced by all the explosions and shit like that if you know what I mean. Yeah, PG&E will say, you can have our grid already. But, we get to keep the distribution rights.

    Naw, like David Chiu’s Grassroots Enterprise, you’re an astro-turfer. Hey, you’re succeeding. But, being this is San Francisco, you can’t buy everyone and there will always be a curmudgeon like me to shine a light into your rat’s nest and reveal who’s snuggled up with you in there.


  7. And just so it is on the record, let’s show PG&E’s confirmation of this fact, which shows H that you are indeed wrong on the key false claim that you are making:

    From Amanda Witherell’s SF Bay Guardian Report on the matter–

    “I called Arce right away, and he stood by his PG&E-free bank account, even faxing a signed statement that he never took their money and putting his girlfriend on the phone to vouch for his cash-poor, values-rich existence.

    PG&E actually got back to me on this one. “In late June, Accounts payable learned that the check was not cashed and indeed returned, at which point CPCI was informed,” Darlene Chiu, PG&E’s spokesperson, wrote in an email. [CPCI stands for Civic Partnership and Community Initiatives, their charitable organization.] Apparently, those two don’t talk very often.”

    — End of story H.

  8. H,

    Your self-proclaimed internet skills seem too adept for you not to find the rule that until 501(c)(3) organizations hit the $25,000 threshold they don’t file a 990: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96103,00.html

    With a little luck this will be the first year that we hit the $25,000 mark. Our first fundraising event in March was a success, even though the awards that were sent by Mayor Newsom, Senator Leno, and Assemblymember Ma are evidently what sent you on this recent tirade against me and Brightline. I’ll tell you right now, we’ve received no money OR support from any utilities, never will, including money OR support from the City’s incumbent utility, PG&E.

    So if you ever want to have a serious discussion about life, power plants, or whatever, like we had over a burrito and beer at that place where you used to convene your salon, hit me back.

    And you might want to do it quick: last month at the Board of Supervisors, Sophie Maxwell and Barbara Hale proposed putting one of those combustion turbines South of Market, near where Luke told me you stay.


  9. Eric and lillian,

    I’ve written lots here and gathered information literally from around the world. Prove one thing I’ve said incorrect and I’ll retract and apologize. Just calling me a liar and a drunk only makes you half right.

    Eric, I really don’t understand your anger. I’ve watched you represent the Greens ably for years. I don’t attend the meetings cause I’d rather, as you say, drink and smoke pot in the comfort of my spacious TL SRO. You’re being played and you’re too smart to go on much longer without realizing it. Ask Joshua to show you a copy of his 990 form. It’s required by federal law. Shows where your money originates. A Guidestar search shows Joshua never filed the document. And, get Joshua to insist that Dr. Sumchai be honored on stage too.

    You have your challenge. Pick amongst the 50 or more pieces of information I’ve related here and prove one thing wrong.

    waiting in SF,


  10. H, I am chair of the SF Green Party Sustainability Working Group, and I always go to both that working group and the full General Membership to make absolutely certain that I have their full consensus before I speak on behalf of the SF Green Party.

    I’ve also been an environmental, consumer, and justice activist for 25 years, know my shit well, and am not being duped by anyone.

    Funny that I have never seen -you- in any of the hundreds of organizing meetings and lobby sessions that I and others have tirelessly attended to actually get rid of power plants and get clean energy established in San Francisco.

    I guess it’s a little easier for you to just crack a 40, lean back in your chair at your keyboard, and throw unsubstantiated toxic spittle at people so that you can give yourself an imaginary sense of self importance.

  11. Wow! HB: You are right- it doesn’t *say* who will be front and center stage, it SHOWS who IS front and center. What’s mind baffling is that those same folks taking center stage (and attempting to now “green themselves”) are the same people (including Susan Leal and Barbra Hale) that pushed SO HARD to build new power plants, that were ultimately determined to pollute JUST as much, if not more than the existing power plant.  H Brown- I don’t know what is worse- your ALWAYS negative (and 100% patently false) witch hunt (against whomever it is convenient to attack) or your total inability to do thorough and/or accurate research. It would be potentially amusing if it weren’t so dam frightening.

  12. Joshua and Eric,

    First of all Eric, I’m going to be very surprised if you are able to honestly say that you speak for the Green Party on all these issues that Joshua has you identified as the spokesperson for the Green Party. My opinion is that your ego is in the way of your admitting that you made a mistake when you threw in with Arce.

    Joshua? You didn’t refute anything I said. Who owns the TransBay Cable now that Babcock and Brown are belly up? And, you have refused to file a legally required 990 form I believe it is? That one requires you to identify your donors. Where’s that form Josh?

    Brooks, you’re a hell of a writer and a guy who’s heart is in the right place. You’re also, in my own humble opinion, a man who has been totally duped.


  13. Well, let me reveal a little secret: I have 45,000 solar panels in my apartment. And I go around giving free solar panels to San Francisco residents, like a Solar Robin Hood. Actually, I only have 44,995 now because I put 5 on Espanola Jackson’s house (good call H).

    Now, Eric Brooks is right, but I’m not going to tell how I got these 45,000, I mean 44,995, solar panels. Because while I love turning down money, I never turn down a good solar panel.

    As to Bayview activists not getting credit, I just got off the phone with Marie Harrison and we agreed that if she ain’t at the ceremony, I ain’t at the ceremony.

    But back to the solar panels, I do have some left and H, I would offer them to you, but I get the sense that you run off of hot air…



  14. H, the SF Bay Guardian in its own report, written by Amanda Witherell, stated clearly and explicitly that Brightline refused PG&E’s check. It was never cashed.

    Brightline never took money from PG&E – period.

    Get off the substances so you can both see to read properly, and then actually remember what you have read…

    You are way down the rabbit hole on this one brother.

    As to Bayview activists not getting credit, just look at who’s up there taking the credit and not giving any props to Bayview organizers; Herrera.

    If you want to give somebody hell call Herrera up and give it to him..

  15. Joshua,

    The link says nothing about who’ll be “front and center”. If Harrison and Sumchai are there it’s because people like me insisted they get credit. They were literally locked out of the festivities around the closing of the last fossil fuel plant.

    Hey, your record is well known. You took 45k from PG&E and legal work from APR to get you going. You may have returned one check but I have absolutely no doubts that you got their money back through another channel.

    I was amused how you turned critic Espanola Jackson around by giving her a free solar on her house. And created a City job tracking truck emissions for?

    And, only an idiot would deny there’s an international energy cabal. Fortunately membership is not based upon race, religion or ethnicity. Explain to your readers what happened to Babcock and Brown and who gets their assets. Start with the TransBay Cable.


  16. H, my man,

    Your global conspiracy theory is about to go to a whole new level. These are the folks “taking stage front and center,” from yesterday’s City Hall press conference:


    I talked with Marie in the morning about the irony…


  17. URS?

    Pirelli? Those construction and management companies ring a bell? Feinstein hubby, Dick Blum is the guy who has directed projects to them for years. Interlocking boards of directors have tentacles all the way to Australia where they bankrupted Babcock and Brown which owns the Transbay Cable Project.

    Anyway, the cable is scheduled to bring DC power into a converter plant and pass AC juice over to the PG&E distributor plant a few blocks north. Passing over/around/through the Mirant property now being vacated. Mirant is a creature of the Edison Group which I believe is a creature of Southern California Edison.

    Bottom line is that all of this is to hand PG&E the continued transmission monopoly of all power into SF well into the next ice age. The SF City Attorney’s office has been complicit in maintaining the illegal PG&E monopoly for the better part of a century by refusing to enforce the federal Raker Act .

    Google any of these entities if you have no home, love or job. Great reading. Projects all over the world going forward as the shell corporations that built them with shareholder funds (largely borrowed from your retirement cash and local bonds) … shell corporations go down (Brown and Babcock was down to one-tenth of a penny on the dollar last year) … you get the picture.

    One interesting element I noted this morning was that the 53 mile TransBay Cable that runs from PIttsburg, CA. on north end of Bay to the Mirant facility in SF has a fiber-optics cable bundled with it.

    On the local political scene the opposition to the last fossil fuel driven power plant in SF was led by people like Marie Harrison and Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai who get absolutely no credit for their efforts. They are literally shut out of events celebrating closures like this and PG&E stooges like Sophie Maxwell and Joshua Arce take stage front and center.

    This plant isn’t closing because of public pressure. It’s closing because the international power conglomerate that created the TransBay Cable LLC needs the space.