State allows Hayward power plant to reopen after explosion

Hayward city leaders are furious over a unanimous vote by the California Energy Commission to approve the reopening of the Russell City Energy Center where an explosion occurred less than two months ago. The Commission approved Calpine Corp.’s application Thursday over the objections of the city.

Investigations related to the May 27 explosion are still ongoing and residents say they don’t feel safe. The city’s fire chief says he has had trouble accessing the facility to survey potential hazards — part of a broader issue with transparency at the plant, according to city leaders.

“Frankly, we are astonished and appalled at this application and your staff's recommendation of approval," Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday said. "This application puts profit and feeding the grid ahead of the safety of our residents and people working in or at proximity to this seemingly unsafe power plant.”

The risks disproportionately burden the city’s Black and brown population, City Manager Kelly McAdoo added. The plant is located in the city’s industrial west side, about a mile from low-income residential neighborhoods.

The application approved by the Commission specifies that Calpine will run the facility at about half capacity using only gas turbines. According to a city press release, this means the plant will release twice the amount of carbon per unit of energy.