Peaker suit

Peaker suit

Through a public-private partnership, the city would own the peaker plants after 10 years

By Amanda Witherell

The permits for San Francisco’s Electric Reliability Project — a 145-megawatt, natural gas–fired “peaker” power plant — have not been properly vetted, according to a Sept. 24 lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

A recent US Supreme Court ruling that the EPA has jurisdiction to regulate greenhouse gas emissions provides grounds for the suit, brought pro bono by the Brightline Defense Project, representing the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Bayview resident Lynne Brown, and Potrero resident Regina Hollins. “In light of the Massachusetts case, the SFERP has not been properly reviewed by the EPA and its delegate, BAAQMD,” the lawsuit alleges.

The California Independent System Operator has said the SFERP is necessary to provide more in-city power generation for grid reliability, despite the recently approved 400 MW Trans Bay Cable and the city’s Community Choice Aggregation plan to increase energy efficiency and build more renewable power generation.

Through a public-private partnership, the city would own the peakers after 10 years. Some public power advocates have said they would be a positive step toward the city controlling its municipal power needs.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has donated about $50,000 to the A. Philip Randolph Institute, according to regional director James Bryant. But, he said, “they’re not giving me any funding on this issue of peaker plants.”

Originally published September 25, 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Guardian