PG&E's peaker-less proposal


For all those following the latest and greatest in the saga of San Francisco's energy future, here's a copy of the proposal PG&E put before Mayor Gavin Newsom's staff on March 5, and which has been making rounds at City Hall. It outlines (though doesn't go into too much detail) a number of energy efficiency measures, demand-response targets, and transmission upgrades.

Tony Winnicker, spokesperson for the SFPUC, seemed nonplussed by the plan, and said it only slightly differed from a past anti-peaker proposal from PG&E that Cal-ISO found wasn't enough for San Francisco to forgo building two new combustion turbine power plants. The new plan includes a line connecting two substations in Potrero and Embarcadero, ultimately making our local grid a little more dynamic. But, said Winnicker, "There's no indication from Cal-ISO that doing this would allow us to close Potrero without Cal-ISO's consistent requirement of 'in city, dispatchable, reliable' generation."

Cal-ISO's Gregg Fishman said the new proposal had pros and cons they'd have to weigh, and introducing a new plan at this point could mean more delays on closing Mirant. "One drawback to a transmission alternative is that building a new major transmission project, instead of installing the peakers, will mean potentially years of delay in the closure of the highly polluting Potrero. Additionally, any new in-city resources, including demand response, would need to be available “around-the-clock” to meet national reliability standards the ISO is required to uphold. Currently, demand response is not available 24/7."

Don't know about you, but my Mission district mailbox has been bombarded by scary mailers from PG&E, posing as the Close It Coalition, screaming "NO NEW POWER PLANTS." They claim environmental reasons but one inside source told me PG&E is "paranoid" about public power. Their 2007 annual report to shareholders includes a section detailing the risks of loosing customers to Community Choice Aggregation or municipalization of electricity services. (See pages 74-76 of this document. I also recommend page 56 for details on the fossil fuel burning power plants PG&E is also building, that are bigger and dirtier than the city's would be.) Peter Darbee, CEO of the corporation, also expressed his own personal concern about public power at PG&E's May 14 annual meeting (but you'll have to tune into tomorrow's Guardian for details on that.)