Newsom's power play - Page 3

"Have they been concerned about what's clean, about our people?"

"We sued them and we won our suit," she added, citing litigation brought by the city against the private company for operating the power plants in excess of its permitted hours and for market manipulation during the 2001-02 energy crisis.

Maxwell's legislation, cosigned by six other supervisors, lays those concerns out and cautions, "In view of this history, the city should be cautious and vigilant in taking any steps that expand the operation of Mirant's facilities in San Francisco."

The legislation also reminds policymakers that San Francisco's Electricity Resource Plan identifies eight specific goals — one of which is to "increase local control over energy resources." It goes on to say, "City ownership of electric generating supplies can reduce the risk of market power abuses and enable the city to mandate the use of cleaner fuels when feasible or to close down any such generation when it is no longer needed."

Maxwell's resolution also outlines a series of conditions that any alternative to the city's peakers would have to meet. The alternative would have to be as clean or cleaner than the city peakers, have the same comprehensive community benefits package that was attached to the city's peaker plan, have no impact on the bay's water, and only be run for reliability needs.

The City Attorney's Office said these criteria are not set in stone — it's a resolution and therefore requires some level of enforcement or action. Mirkarimi, who signed on to the resolution, is still uncomfortable with it as it stands, saying it should include discussion of the city's new community choice aggregation (CCA) plan for creating renewable public power projects.

Some environmentalists cautioned that the transmission-only approach still leaves too much control in the hands of others. "We shouldn't let PG&E be the ones to solve this problem," said Eric Brooks, a Green Party rep and founder of Community Choice Energy Alliance. He's urging city officials to put all the city's energy intentions — from the CCA plan for 51 percent renewables by 2017 to an exploration of city-funded transmission upgrades — into a presentation for Cal-ISO.

Brooks noted a conspicuous absence from the May 23 meeting with the mayor: "CCA and environmentalists weren't at the table, as usual."