Gavin Newsom is about to trade offices, leaving San Francisco City Hall for his new gig with the state. But the soon-to-be-former mayor still has aspirations for the city that played midwife to his political career. Specifically, Newsom is still promoting San Francisco as the site for an innovative wave-power project.

In an interview published today in the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom acknowledges that his initial vision to harness the ocean tides for electrical power had problems. An independent study concluded that the scheme would produce power that was as much as six times more expensive than conventionally generated power. That report begins and ends with an ironic quotation from Adolph Sutro, the developer of the storied baths on the ocean front above San Francisco’s Cliff House: “The possibilities of utilizing the forces of the sea’s waves will soon be manifest.”

Newsom tells the Chron that false starts aside, his enthusiasm for a sea power is undimmed:

“We will get the ocean power project done,” Newsom said during a recent interview overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “You guys have had fun at my expense – which I get. That’s why I’ll have the final word as the lieutenant governor on that.”

Newsom was criticized as naive and stubborn for insisting in 2008 that the city should submerge giant turbines in bay waters near the Golden Gate Bridge to generate power despite a study saying it was financially infeasible.

“I’m committed to it and am going to fight for it,” Newsom said then. “I don’t care about the arguments against it. I care about the arguments for it.”

There’s some chance that Newsom will get a chance to help the city build such a project in his new job, lieutenant governor. California’s No. 2 elected official sits on the State Lands Commission and Ocean Protection Council—positions that could help deliver needed state approvals for offshore development.

(The Bay Citizen weighs in on the mayor’s ocean power scheme today, too: Mayor Newsom Breaks Pledge to Bring Wave Power to San Francisco.)

Newsom’s Hopes for Ocean Power 27 December,2010Dan Brekke


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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