"The community of residents that live in proximity to this power plant are disproportionately burdened by multiple pollution sources and of characteristics that make them more sensitive to that pollution," Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo told California Energy Commission members.
The California Public Utilities Commission and energy commission staff said reopening the Hayward power plant will allow the state to provide more reliable energy to California's strained power grid in the face of unprecedented heat in recent months, highlighting the tension between California's crucial energy needs and the safety of mostly Black and brown neighborhoods bearing the brunt of climate change.
"We are balancing many competing threats right now," said David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission. "There's obviously concern about the local safety issues ... But there are also health issues around grid reliability."
But locals said they're not confident about the plant's safety amid outstanding questions about what caused a late-night explosion at the plant two months ago, prompting evacuations.
Just before midnight on May 27, the plant — owned by Houston-based Calpine Corporation — erupted into flames after a steam turbine broke apart, sending chunks of metal flying as far as 1,200 feet away and puncturing the roof of the city's Housing Navigation Center.
Within a matter of days, McAdoo told California Energy Commission members that Calpine was at work on an application to restart the power plant at half capacity, which is expected to release twice as much carbon per unit of energy produced.
"We acknowledge the state's need for adequate power supply, but this should not be accomplished at the cost of community safety and detrimental environmental impacts," McAdoo said.