Does San Francisco Really Want to Build a Solar Plant in the Foggy Sunset?

The proposed Sunset Reservoir Solar Project from Recurrent Energy is in the news lately. I understand how photovoltaic cells can work even in the fog, but fog can have a big impact on solar electric production, right? Does our unique climate play a role in the decision of where to build this thing? 

Now of course, our cemeteries are outside the city limits, as is SFO for that matter. Is this public/private partnership is the best we can come up with?  

The dreary Sunset District, yesterday, 1:00 PM:

Let’s see if the FAQ helps:

Why doesn’t the City build the system?
Pending Board of Supervisors approval in first quarter of 2009, the project would be on track to begin construction in the summer of 2009 and complete in first quarter of 2010.

Is that a responsive answer?

Why was this location selected?
This location was chosen because it is one of the largest reservoirs and rooftops owned by the city. The recent seismic upgrade of the roof over the Sunset Reservoir’s north basin makes it strong enough for the installation of solar panels. While located in the Sunset district, the solar resource is still very good, on average only 15% lower than the sunniest areas of the City.

Again, is that a responsive answer? We have to build solar on rooftops and reservoirs because…why?

Why does the system need to be located within the city?
The City needs electricity generated inside San Francisco. Starting in 1998, the City made efforts to shutter old polluting power plants within San Francisco. In 2006, Hunter’s Point power plant was permanently closed and subsequently demolished. The Potrero Hill power plant was also under discussion for closure, but the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) has determined that the Potrero Hills [yes, "Hills" - howdy stranger, welcome to San Francisco!] power plant cannot be decommissioned until new transmission or generation is added within San Francisco. This project will add much needed generation to the City of San Francisco.

So this tiny little project, which will produce something like 1% of the juice generated by the Mirant plant, is a kind of substitute for the Mirant plant? Really?

Perhaps the lowest bidder didn’t come in low enough?

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