By Steven Tavares
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The student and leadership at Chabot College may not think much about Calpine’s planned 619-megawatt power plant emerging out of the Hayward marshland and just a mile away from its campus, but the financiers of big business see great promise in the proposed natural gas-fired Russell Center Energy Center.

Hayward’s Russell City Energy
Center could be ready by 2013.

Calpine, the Houston-based power provider, and General Electric announced Monday a $845 million loan facility that moves the project one large step closer to full-scale construction over the next year or two. Calpine hopes to have the power plant in operation by 2013.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Calpine will hold 75 percent of the loan with GE Energy Financial Services handling the remaining balance. Financing for the project was arranged by MUFG Power & Utilities Group, ING Capital LLC, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets, BMO Capital Markets and CoBank ACB, according to the Houston Business Journal.

Controversy over most of the past decade regarding the power plant has embroiled some current and past Hayward officials. Some residents believe the city acted without public transparency and community outreach during early discussions over placing the project in an ecologically sensitive area like the San Francisco Bay marshlands. A report placing the location of the Russell City Energy Center in an area of the coastline estimated to be flooded by 2050 from rising sea level, also added to the outrage.

Recently, the chancellor of Chabot College, Joel Kinnamon, has spoken passionately against the power plant’s location within in the breathing area of thousands of students, but many public officials and political observers believe the project is too far along to by scuttled by protest.

Proponents of the power plant’s construction point to the fact the natural gas-fired facility is the first in the nation to receive a federal air permit along with voluntary limit of greenhouse emissions. Hayward’s city staff also contends the amount of pollution created by the power plant will be negligible.