Reasons to think twice about planned Hayward power plant
I always considered myself lucky to be living in a clean and unpolluted community. However, Hayward will be joining the thirty-seven power plant cities in Northern California soon. For example the other small power plant cities are San Jose, Suisun, Pittsburg, Yuba, Gilroy, Greenleaf, San Diego, King, Lebec, Watsonville, Fairfield, Cloverdale, Middleton, and Antioch. On February 4, 2010 Calpine Corporation (NYSE: CPN) received approval to build a power plant in the Russell City area of Hayward, California.
The majority of the Northern California cities have either geothermal and/or gas turbine, combined-cycle and cogeneration power plants. In Calpine’s news release, the company obtained permit to build nation’s first power plant with federal limit on greenhouse gas emissions and this will put Calpine at the forefront of the fight against global warming. Jason Barnett of Singer Associates, Inc. is CALPINE’s Bay Area media representative. In Calpine’s press release it said, “the company is a leader in generating environmentally responsible renewable and natural gas fired electric power, has worked to establish a first-of-its-kind limit on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from the company’s planned 600-megawatt Russell City Energy Center located in the City of Hayward in Alameda County, CA Construction of the natural gas-fired power plant is expected to begin later this year…the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to grant a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit is the final federal regulatory approval needed for the project to move forward.”
This groundbreaking PSD permit for Russell City Energy Center by CALPINE Corporation was presented as a “case study” at the committee’s meeting in Washington, DC of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for how the existing Clean Air Act can be used to regulate emissions of heat-trapping pollutants. Linda Adams, California State Secretary for Environmental Protection Agency who was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in May 2006 said, “Once again California is demonstrating leadership on greenhouse gas related issues. We applaud the BAAQMD and Calpine for going beyond existing federal law and being the first in the nation to require an enforceable greenhouse gas limit…This action furthers efforts at a statewide level to balance our economic needs while meeting our environmental challenges. Aggressive and early action like this is needed to fight global warming and is critical to our economic recovery.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) both agree on building a new power plant in Hayward. Therefore, the Russell City power plant is an economic recovery plan for the State of California to increase jobs.
The Russell City Energy Center will produce significant economic benefits for the City of Hayward and the Bay Area, creating 650 union construction jobs, injecting millions into the local economy and generating approximately $30 million in one-time tax revenue and more than $5 million annually in property tax revenue to help fund local government services. Calpine’s press release said, “These plants will help meet Governor Schwarzenegger’s aggressive goals that, by 2020, 33 percent of California utilities’ power is generated by renewable sources and statewide greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 15 percent from current levels.” Is this what Hayward citizens want in their town?
Opposed to building a new power plant in their city is the organization called Citizens Against Pollution (CAP). Audrey LePell and Andy Wilson, are Vice President & President of CAP said, “The permit granted by the air District was a “PSD” permit, that is, a permit to “prevent significant deterioration” of the air. It is essentially a federal permit utilized by large stationary sources, such as power plants and refineries, to pollute the air in our communities…Its sister plant, The Delta Energy Center, is the top stationary gas fired thermal power plant polluter with the Bay Area. The Calpine plant, if built, will become the sixth top polluter following the already existing refineries.” Governor Schwarzenegger has targeted a project through economic recovery by building more power plants in Northern California to increase jobs. However, some citizens of Hayward are not convinced that this is a good idea. Quoting Thomas Berry, cosmologist and “Earth scholar” on disconnecting our sensitivity to the planet earth: “This disconnection occurs quite simply since we ourselves have become insensitive toward the natural world and do not realize just what we are doing. Yet, if we observe our children closely in their early years and see how they are instinctively attracted to the experiences of the natural world about them, we will see how disorientated they become in the mechanistic and even toxic environment that we provide for them.” Recently, the global communities have observed two natural earthquakes: One was in the Haiti Region and the second was in Chile. There are many explorations to cover because of the Hayward Fault—if it is due for a repeat of the powerful 1868 Earthquake?
Why is California focused on building a power plant in such an earthquake hazard area in the San Francisco Bay region? The need to eliminate high unemployment in California is understandable, but to surrender Californians' safety for progress is a major concern. Is it safe to build a power plant in the Hayward Fault area? We will understand Mr. Berry's warning about being disconnected from our mother earth if we just listen and act with our hearts.