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Amid Local Opposition, Hayward Power Plant Allowed To Resume Operations After Explosion

HAYWARD (KPIX 5) – A power plant in Hayward has been allowed to come back online following a recent explosion and city officials are not happy about it.

The Russell City Energy Center has been billed as a high-efficiency, low emission, modern natural gas plant and turns eight years old next month.

It has been shut down since an explosion here in May, but now it has the green light to resume operating, despite local concerns.

"We want to make it clear that the City of Hayward adamantly opposes the application by Calpine corporation to restart the Russell City Energy Center Power Plant," said Mayor Barbara Halliday.

Russell City Energy Center Hayward
Russell City Energy Center in Hayward. (CBS)

To make her case, the mayor held up a piece of evidence from the night of May 27th.

"Here, if you can see me, is an example," Halliday said, holding up a piece of debris. "It's very, very heavy."

That was one of the chunks of metal sent flying from the explosion. Several pieces, including one that weighed 51 pounds, were scattered across the city's water treatment facility nearby.

Another piece, weighing 15 pounds, flew 1,200 feet and crashed through a trailer at the city's homeless navigation Center.

"If we were to lose a life, which could have happened, we would not be here discussing this," said Siva Gunda of the California Energy Commission.

The commission acknowledged the incident was serious and deserves more follow up, but they chose to support the plant reopening, because of a threat facing the entire state of California.

"I am prepared to support them, and support moving forward with the proposed order in light of the circumstances on the grid this summer," said member Karen Douglas.

"We had two outages last year," Gunda said. "And we have been tight twice this year already."

With the green light will come more cooperation, or more oversight, by the Hayward Fire Department.

A Calpine representative said the company welcomes that.

"We will be happy to meet with the city and the city fire department to determine how to do that better in the future," said Calpine's Barbara McBride.

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