Herrera Hails Mayor Newsom, Cal-ISO for Potrero Power Plant Shutdown Accord

Removal of remaining units from ‘must-run’ designation represents last hurdle in long road to close embattled power facility

SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 12, 2010) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today praised Mayor Gavin Newsom and the California Independent System Operator for reaching an accord to release the remaining power generation units of the Potrero Power Plant from must-run designation after 2010, so long as planned electric cabling upgrades meet the power grid regulator’s reliability standards. The agreement clears the final hurdle in efforts by City officials and community leaders for more than a decade to finally close the City’s last remaining large power plant.

“Mayor Newsom deserves enormous credit for his tireless work with CalISO to clear this last major hurdle to shut down the Potrero Power Plant, and to make San Francisco cleaner, greener and healthier as a result,” said Herrera. “We are also grateful to the regulators from CalISO, who are charged with managing the reliability of our state’s power grid, for their hard work to evaluate the voluminous studies that made this agreement possible. After years of contention over how this would be achieved, we are today united in our appreciation that it was achieved. I would also express my gratitude to Supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi and other Board members; former Board President Aaron Peskin; PUC General Manager Ed Harrington; and former PUC General Manager Susan Leal for being such effective leaders in the City’s efforts. Community advocates from throughout San Francisco deserve enormous credit for their activism and hard work. I’m also thankful to Mirant, for its work to reach an agreement with my office last year. Finally, I am thankful to all of the legal professionals in my office who lent their considerable talent and expertise to this cause over the course of many years, especially Chief Assistant City Attorney Jesse Smith and Energy Team Chief Theresa Mueller.”

A key milestone among efforts to enable the closure of the nearly 50-year-old facility included last year’s negotiated accord with Mirant, the plant’s operator, in which the Atlanta-based energy giant agreed to shutter the power plant by the end of 2010 if allowed to do so by Cal-ISO. Under terms of the agreement Mirant officials signed on Aug. 13, 2009, the company committed to 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 also agreed to pay another $100,000 to the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office for legal fees and costs, and to promise 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.

Previous efforts to fight the plant’s continued operation included disputes over 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. Herrera also filed a 2009 civil lawsuit against Mirant for violating the City’s Unreinforced Masonry Buildings ordinance at the Potrero site.

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