For Immediate Release: May 31, 2023

Agreement follows safety upgrades to facility systems

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission (CEC) today approved a $2.5 million settlement agreement with Russell City Energy Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Calpine Corporation, to resolve alleged violations related to a May 2021 incident at a Bay Area power plant.

The event involved an explosion and fire at the Russell City Energy Center in Hayward when a steam turbine generator experienced a mechanical failure. As acknowledged in the settlement agreement, the operator took measures to enable the power plant to safely return to operations.

Under the agreement, $1.25 million will go to fund clean energy projects in the city of Hayward, where the facility is located and $1.25 million will go to the CEC for deposit in the state’s General Fund.

The Russell City Energy Center is a 600-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired power plant that began operating in August 2013. In February 2019, the CEC approved an amendment to their license for the installation of a 10-MW battery energy storage system to support grid reliability.

As a result of the damage from the May 2021 explosion, the power plant was shut down for several months for repairs, and a joint agency investigation was conducted by the CEC and California Public Utilities Commission to identify corrective actions. The team published a report summarizing the results and corrective actions required prior to restarting plant operations. The actions were designed to directly address the causes of the incident and put safeguards in place to reduce the likelihood of a future event.

“Ensuring the safety and reliability of California’s existing power plant fleet is foundational to the CEC’s work,” said CEC Executive Director Drew Bohan. “We appreciate Calpine's agreement to implement the corrective actions identified by the joint agency investigative team to help make sure the plant operates safely. This is the largest settlement amount in CEC’s history, and we believe it sends the appropriate message about the importance of public safety.”

The operator’s completion of the required corrective actions and the settlement resolve the alleged violations at the Russell City Energy Center.

About the CEC’s Role Siting Power Plants

The CEC is the state agency responsible for licensing thermal and non-fossil-fueled power plants 50 MW or greater. Once licensed, a power plant under CEC jurisdiction must maintain compliance with all conditions established for it to operate.

Since 1975, the CEC has licensed (certified), or exempted from certification, 153 thermal power plants; of these, 106 were constructed. For projects it certifies, the CEC is the chief building official, providing construction oversight and enforcement of all California Building Code provisions. The CEC conducts regular inspections and audits to ensure that safe and reliable power is available while protecting the environment, public health, and worker safety. The CEC works with power plant owners to bring them into compliance with their licenses and takes enforcement action, as necessary.

Photos of the facility are available for download and use on the CEC's Flickr account.


About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is leading the state to a 100 percent clean energy future. It has seven core responsibilities: developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, increasing energy efficiency, investing in energy innovation, advancing state energy policy, certifying power plants, and preparing for energy emergencies.

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