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Published on January 16th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


California to Shut Down State’s Most Polluting Power Plant

California’s dirtiest power plant–the Potrero Point station located on San Francisco’s southeastern waterfront–could close this fall according to Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The 40 year old, diesel-powered plant is the cause of heavy pollution in one of San Francisco’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. It spews particles and chemicals from its smokestacks, plaguing the area with higher rates of asthma and many other health problems. The plant’s cooling system, which sucks in millions of gallons of bay water daily, kills fish larvae as it discharges its heated water back into the bay.

The Potrero Power Plant in southeastern San Francisco

The Potrero Power Plant in southeastern San Francisco

A letter from Yakout Mansour, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO), told Newsom that the agency had received new information that would no longer require the plant be operational. Potrero point is a neighbor to the now closed Hunters Point station. It was closed in 2006.

“After years of work, we have finally obtained the long-sought commitment from state energy regulators that will allow us to close the old, polluting Potrero power plant this year,” Newsom said.

Cal-ISO is tasked with maintaining the reliability of the California’s electrical grid. Prior to this decision, the agency stood strong that until other sources of power came online, Potrero would stay open.

The toxic outflow from the plant into the San Francisco Bay

The toxic outflow from the plant into the San Francisco Bay

Mansour said underground transmission cables from the Peninsula to the city are being upgraded by PG&E, allowing three of the plant’s generators to halt operation. The plant’s fourth generator, and its largest, will retire once the Trans Bay Cable project demonstrates its reliability. It’s expected to deliver 400 megawatts of power to the city from Pittsburg.

Newsom called this a major step for environmental justice for the southeast and Potrero Hill communities.

The Potrero station is the only remaining large power plant within the confines of San Francisco. It’s responsible for 30-percent of the city’s power. The plant is expected to fully close by the fall.

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Source: CBS5

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