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SAN FRANCISCO-The City of San Francisco’s plans to build a 540-megawatt, natural gas-fired plant in Potrero Hill’s Bayside area are being strongly criticized by conservation groups and angry residents.

Mirant Corp. would build the plant at 1201 Illinois St., between 22nd and 23rd streets, an already operating 206-megawatt steam turbine and 3 52-megawatt combustion turbines. Communities for a Better Environment argue the area is home to many people of color and extremely low incomes who have already suffered enough the brunt of heavy industries and pollution.

“San Francisco needs power. Southeast San Francisco needs justice,” reads the beginning of a report released this week by the group, questioning the necessity of the new plant. Communities for a Better Environment says it has provided the city with research that shows that a combination of alternative energy sources, conservation and revised administrative electricity-buying approaches could fill the energy gap more reliably than a one-plant system would.

The proposed plant still must be approved by the California Energy Commission. The San Francisco Department of the Environment will hold two public hearings this week in the Mission and Bayview districts to get the public’s input on the city’s energy plans.

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