Once off-limits, Bay Area to house power plants

The Associated Press
Monday September 03, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO – Thirteen new power plants are in the works for the San Francisco Bay area, a new home for the structures that was once considered off-limits to their development. 

The Bay Area often has to rely on power from other areas, but can only bring in a limited amount because of high-voltage wire constraints. The 13 proposed power plants could help alleviate that problem by offering more than 6,200 megawatts, enough to power about 4.5 million homes. 

Some of the plants may not get built, but the number is still high for the area. The only other area with so much new power proposed is the large area encompassed by Kern and San Luis Obispo counties. 

That concerns some residents, who aren’t sure there’s a need for so many new power plants, especially the 600-megawatts Metcalf Energy Center in south San Jose, that some fear will pollute the air and water. 

But California needs the electricity, including extra power during critical periods, say officials with Calpine Corp., the San Jose-based power company that hopes to build the Metcalf center. 

At least one of the proposed projects is in trouble, though. The 550-megawat plant that AES would like to build in South San Francisco has made little progress in the last three years, and a spokesman for the company said its future is unclear.