County to state: Slow down on Hayward power plant

By Karen Holzmeister, Staff writer
Article Last Updated: 10/09/2007 05:06:39 PM PDT

OAKLAND ? The California Energy Commission is moving too fast on Hayward’s Russell City Energy Center, Alameda County supervisors said Tuesday. The county will ask the commission to reconsider its mid-September approval for the 600-megawatt power plant until environmental issues affecting unincorporated areas are resolved. Last month, the commission’s unanimous vote appeared to end a nearly seven-year review process that escalated into intense public debate during recent months. County Counsel Richard Winnie said air quality issues in nearby unincorporated areas haven’t been addressed, and the county never was formally notified about the project. Mt. Eden is the closest unincorporated area to the plant slated to be built near the Hayward shoreline (Editor’s Note: and, right under the downwind leg for the airport). Other unincorporated areas within a three- to six-mile radius include Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, El Portal Ridge, Fairmont Terrace, Fairview, Hayward Acres, Hillcrest Knolls and San Lorenzo.

“I’m glad we’re pursuing this, and grateful to Alameda County for taking whatever steps are necessary to get heard,” said county Supervisor Gail Steele, herself a Hayward resident.

The supervisors’ vote to contact the Sacramento-based Energy Commission was made in closed session. Winnie announced the decision during the subsequent open meeting.

Winnie said the county will file a motion this week calling for a delay on approving the plant.

Air quality issues weren’t “properly considered,” Winnie said. Advertisement He cited a “lack of testing” by the Bay Area Air Quality Control District.

The commission claimed it contacted the county, but couldn’t identify which individual or agency received the notice, Winnie added.

When county representatives raised the same issue at last month’s commission hearing, CEC staffers countered that no fewer than eight county offices were notified of the proceedings in recent years. Aviation safety was among other issues raised by the county at that hearing.

Hayward residents have opposed the plant because it would release thousands of pounds [tons] of pollutants into the air daily. Calpine Corp., the San Jose-based power plant developer, would be allowed to buy banked energy credits to reduce pollution elsewhere in the Bay Area, under terms of the commission decision. (Editor’s Note: Why should they be allowed to do this?)

Staff writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

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