And the plan would leave PG&E and Mirant in control of generating and distributing power in the city.
We're sympathetic to the environmental justice arguments, and we've been consistent in our position that the city shouldn't build or operate new fossil fuel plants unless the scientific evidence shows they'll be cleaner than any reasonable alternative. We would much prefer that San Francisco refrain from any new fossil fuel sources and rely instead on a completely renewable portfolio. But for all the problems we have with the peakers, they would, at least, be owned by the city.
That's a crucial issue: if San Francisco controls the plants, San Francisco can turn them off any time, the moment the city's renewable efforts convince Cal-ISO that the peakers aren't needed (or even before that, if we want to risk a legal fight with the state). If a private company owns the generators, the plant will continue to run as long as it makes money.
If there's a credible way to avoid any fossil fuel generation, we're all in favor. But if the choice is between the peakers and retrofitting Mirant, it's a no-brainer. And the real lesson here is that the supervisors should be moving forward with Sups. Mirkarimi and Peskin's charter amendment to create a full public power agency at City Hall. *