Commission panel to review Eastshore plant

HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - The controversial proposal to build a 115-megawatt power plant on Clawiter Road is finally getting its day before the California Energy Commission.

The state commission had a public meeting in Hayward and scheduled two consecutive days of evidentiary hearings next month on the proposed Eastshore Energy Center.

The number of power plant opponents who intend to admit their own evidence and cross-examine witnesses at the proceedings has grown significantly in recent weeks, and includes Hayward and Alameda County government officials, directors of Chabot College, the California Pilots Association and the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association.

Also not in favor of the gas-fired Eastshore plant is the energy commission's own staff.

On Nov. 9, the commission released a final staff assessment of Colorado-based Tierra Energy's power plant proposal that said the Eastshore facility should not be built because it would be too close to the Hayward Executive Airport. Pilots worry that fast-moving plumes of hot exhaust would endanger the safety of passing helicopters and small airplanes.

And because another power plant would be built nearby, they say the combination of plants will further restrict airspace already restricted by incoming commercial airliners heading toward Oakland International Airport. If the Eastshore plant is approved and built as Tierra hopes, it would be Hayward's second approved power plant - but the first to be constructed and ready to operate.

The plan calls for a construction start date in spring 2008, and by May 2009 the plant would be connected to the Pacific Gas & Electric power grid.

In September, the California Energy Commission voted unanimously, with four of its five members present, to allow San Jose-based Calpine Corp. to build the 600-megawatt Russell City Energy Center on Enterprise Avenue in Hayward.

The commission's staff also objected to the Russell City plant for aircraft safety reasons, but the commissioners overrode the final staff assessment.


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