Posted on March 12, 2013

San Francisco: PG&E’s Former Hunters Point Plant Now Part of Photo Exhibit

The Hunters Point Power Plant in San Francisco, as captured in a photo that’s part of an exhibit now running at the Bayview Opera House. (Photo by David DeVries.)

SAN FRANCISCO – The remediation of the former PG&E Hunters Point Power Plant is in its final stages. Throughout the cleanup, PG&E has worked closely with the local community, and the company plans to do the same as it works toward site improvements and pedestrian safety projects.

Although the buildings are gone, a new photography exhibit has brought them back to life.

The free exhibit, “REplace: Depictions of Monumental Architecture, Adaptive Reuse, and Industrial Detritus,” runs through May 5 at the Bayview Opera House at 4705 Third Street.

Black-and-white photographs taken by David DeVries, Stephanie Cimino and others of the Hunters Point Power Plant from 2006 to 2008 are part of the exhibit.

At an opening night event, attendees viewed the photos of the Hunter’s Point Power Plant. (Photo by Solomon So.)

Nearly 15 years ago, San Francisco residents in the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods organized a campaign to close the power plant. Working with the community, PG&E pledged to close the plant in 1998. After building nine new transmission projects to replace the power that the plant supplied, the facility was shut down in 2006. The closing of the power plant was an important milestone in the community’s ongoing revitalization efforts.

Some community members did not want the plant structures removed and these photos are the result of a settlement that was reached in an effort to respect the wishes of community members who wanted the buildings removed and those who wanted to preserve history

Prior to the demolition, PG&E agreed to document the plant’s design and in black and white archival photos in order to preserve this important piece of history. Photographers DeVries and Cimino, working for Mesa Technical, meticulously documented the power plant before and during its dismantling. Through the eyes of these photographers, the exhibit at the Bayview Opera House conveys symmetry and beauty in the design of the power plant building and its functional parts that were destined for demolition. Shortly after the photographers surveyed the plant, the demolition and remediation project proceeded.

The black-and-white photography captures the industrial symmetry of the plant’s design. (Photo by David DeVries.)

As part of its commitment to the community, PG&E developed partnerships with community organizations and made a concerted effort to hiring local workers and supporting local businesses throughout the demolition and cleanup of the site. In all, local residents worked a total of 150,000 hours during the demolition and cleanup. Including local wages, more than $22 million has been invested in local businesses. In 2012, 48 percent of laborers and operators at the site were from the Bayview and Hunters Point community. This effort is being viewed in San Francisco as a model of how businesses can partner with the community to increase local investment.

The photo exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Admission is free. The exhibit is sponsored by PG&E, the Laborers International Union of North America and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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