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Russell City Energy Center, Alameda County, California

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Natural Gas

OPPOSITION:  Environmental groups; Alameda County residents; Chabot-Las Positas Faculty Association

PROSPECT:  Likely, with minor delays

BACKGROUND:  Russell City Energy Company, a joint venture of Calpine Corporation and GE Energy Financial Services, has planned a 600-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant on a 15-acre site in Hayward, California.  Russell City Energy Center, if completed, would be the first major U.S. power plant to have federally enforceable greenhouse gas emissions limits.  According to Calpine, the plant will have 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the California Public Utilities Commission’s standard, and 50 percent less than the most advanced coal-fired power plants.  Calpine has sought to build the plant since 2001.

As proposed, the Russell City Energy Center will include two gas turbines, two heat recovery steam generators, a single steam turbine, a cooling tower and a diesel fire pump engine. The facility would be a combined-cycle power plant in which the gas turbines generate electricity and the heat from the gas turbine exhaust is used to produce steam in the heat recovery steam generator to generate additional electricity via the steam turbine. 

The California Energy Commission granted a license for the plant in September 2007, and the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 10-year power purchase agreement in April 2009 under which PG&E will purchase the electricity generated by the plant.  The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) issued the plant’s final Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit in February 2010. 

Upon issuance of the PSD permit, Calpine stated its intent to break ground in late 2010.  However, that schedule appears to have slipped.  In an effort to stave off opposition, Calpine entered into negotiations with environmental groups and the local air district to agree upon acceptable emissions limits.  However, several opponents still filed suit.  In March 2010, seven petitions were filed to EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to protest the inadequacy of the air pollutant controls for nitrogen dioxide and particulates in the final permit, in addition to several other issues. On July 21, a three-judge panel heard the arguments in those petitions.  A decision has not yet been issued and the project cannot move forward until those petitions are addressed.

An October 2010 Calpine investor presentation projects that construction could possible begin in the second quarter of 2011.  Calpine estimates that construction of the plant will create 650 direct jobs.  Calpine has not disclosed an estimate of construction costs for the project.

SOURCES:  Bay Area Air Quality Management District (http://www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Engineering/Public-Notices-on-Permits/2009/080309-15487/Russell-City-Energy-Center.aspx);
EPA (http://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/eab_web_docket.nsf/f22b4b245fab46c6852570e6004df1bd/df250cdc9ddc2bce852576ef00513d84!OpenDocument);
San Francisco Gate (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/04/BUG91BSNBI.DTL);
New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/02/04/04greenwire-planned-calif-power-plant-would-be-nations-fir-73676.html);
ABC7 San Francisco (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local&id=5370645); Calpine Corporation (http://www.calpine.com/3Q10_Earnings_Presentation.pdf);
Chabot Las Positas Faculty Association (http://clpcfa.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/fa-opposition-to-power-plants/);
California Native Plant Society (http://ebcnps.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/russell-city-energy-center-update-2/);
Bechtel Corporation (http://www.bechtel.com/2001-05-23.html). 

LAST UPDATED:  November 16, 2010