Always a trendsetter in a state known for riding in front of the wave, San Francisco has joined a small group of locales to embrace tidal power.

In September, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that the city would formally explore the possibility of generating clean energy through the power of the tides with a $150,000, 12- to 18-month feasibility study conducted by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

At the same time, Newsom said he would convene a Tidal Power Advisory Group of clean energy advocates, technical experts, environmental leaders and Bay Area regional and local government representatives to inform and advise the process.

The SFPUC study will examine the range of potential issues, challenges and opportunities with tidal power for the city, including regulatory, technological, environmental, financial and other issues. Previous studies have concluded that the unique, narrow configuration of the opening of the San Francisco Bay makes it one of the most ideal locations on the western coast of North America to generate tidal power. It is estimated that if harnessed there, tidal power could generate up to 35 megawatts—enough energy to power 10,000 homes.

If built, a tidal power generating facility at the Golden Gate Bridge would be the first on the Pacific Coast. It would be joined by only a handful of other projects, including one under construction on the East River in New York City and two more being considered in Alaska and Washington state.    -Rick Laezman