Committee Moves Forward With Mirant Power Replacement Plan

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in News, Politics

Tagged: , ,

Published on May 06, 2008 with No Comments

By Ari Burack

May 6, 2008

A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee yesterday approved a controversial plan to replace an aging, polluting power plant in one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods with four cleaner-burning power plants.

The project would establish three natural gas combustion turbines at 25th and Maryland streets in the Potrero District, and one turbine at San Francisco International Airport.

The combustion turbines would replace the Potrero District’s Mirant power plant, deemed to be antiquated and heavily polluting, and blamed by some for higher rates of asthma and cancer in the city’s poorer, southeastern neighborhoods.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission currently puts the project’s estimated cost at about $262 million.

Monday’s marathon, often contentious committee hearing featured speakers from the Potrero and Bayview-Hunters Point communities most affected by the pollution, as well as environmental advocacy and civic groups, many with varying views about whether clean, renewable energy sources and not simply less polluting alternatives were still an option.

Committee members Aaron Peskin and Sophie Maxwell both stressed that adding cleaner fossil fuel burning plants in the city, while not preferable, remained the only option to replace the Mirant plant.

Peskin, Maxwell and other supporters of the project say the California Independent System Operator, which monitors the state’s energy grid, has declared the combustion turbine proposal to be the only one that would maintain the reliability of electricity in the region.

Maxwell, whose district includes the areas most affected by the pollution, argued the cleaner plants were the “fastest and cleanest way” to rid the area of the Mirant plant.

“Theoretical alternatives cannot deliver what the CT (combustion turbine) project can at this time,” Maxwell said.

Peskin said that renewable and other options had already been studied.

Said Peskin, “This is the only alternative that will bring about in the short term, the reduction in emissions that we need to deliver” to the southeastern portion of the city.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who introduced resolutions calling for further study of the proposal, argued that newer, cleaner, more effective technologies have become available since the combustion turbine plan was put in place in 2004.

“We can do better than four fossil-fuel-burning smokestacks,” said Alioto-Pier.

“I truly believe that we are at a time in history, when we have to move forward, with our chins up, and say no to this,” Alioto-Pier said.

“If this were happening in any other district of San Francisco, this would not even be thought of,” she added.

After about six hours on the issue, Peskin and Maxwell approved the combustion turbine plan, and rejected Alioto-Pier’s resolutions.

The full Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal at its May 13 meeting.

If approved, planners estimated the combustion turbines could begin operating in 2010.

No Comments

Comments for Committee Moves Forward With Mirant Power Replacement Plan are now closed.