New power line may bring $25M to S.F. 

San Francisco’s Port Commission on Tuesday approved a property agreement income as well as energy to The City.

The Transbay Cable is a joint project between the city of Pittsburg and Babcock and Brown, a private company. The $300 million cable would bring energy to San Francisco from Pittsburg. According to the project’s timeline, construction is scheduled to begin this year, with the electrical line operational by 2010, according to Brad Benson, a San Francisco port official.

In exchange for the nonexclusive license for use of the Bay floor inside the San Francisco county line, The City would receive more than $25 million.

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Critics of the project, including Steven Moss, executive director of SF Power, a nonprofit that focuses on alternative energy sources, said that the additional electrical project didn’t fit with The City’s progressive energy policies.

"There seems to be a large economic interest in seeing the project approved," Moss said.

Barbara Hale, assistant general manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, countered that the cable would bring a reliable source of energy to The City, along with financial benefits.

Under city law, the licensing agreement must next go to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

The licensing resolution was approved unanimously by the four-member port commission. Commission Vice President Kimberly Brandon said her vote didn’t really constitute an endorsement of the project, but moved along the agreement "that needs to be in place should the other bodies that need to vote on this decide to go forward with the project.

"We all feel none of us, including staff, is in a position to say whether the project is ultimately necessary or not," Brandon said, a point to which Benson agreed.

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