By John Ramos

HAYWARD (KPIX 5) – The city of Hayward is parting ways with PG&E and moving to more environmentally-friendly ways to produce electricity.

If you want to see the City of Hayward’s commitment to non-polluting energy, you should come out to its waste water treatment plant.

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It used to be the single largest user of electricity in the city but eight years ago they created a 1-megawatt solar farm on the property which produces enough power to run the plant and then some.

Hayward City Councilmember Al Mendall said, “It is now the single largest producer and exporter of clean, green, renewable power.”

Now, the city has upped the ante.

At Tuesday’s meeting the council voted to require all commercial and residential properties in the city to switch away from PG&E and begin buying power from a non-profit provider called East Bay Community Energy.

And they will be doing it at the highest possible level — 100 percent renewable — making Hayward the largest city in the Bay Area to move customers to strictly carbon-free energy.

Mendall said, “…that’s going to be making them part of the solution for combating climate change in a very significant way.”

Mendall says it will cost the same as what PG&E offers, and even then, consumers will still have a choice.

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They can switch to an 85 percent renewable level that is said to be cheaper.

Hayward resident Robert Hawkins said, “If what’s good for the environment is cheaper, hey, I’m sold!”

Or customers can choose to move back to PG&E if they wish.

But some in the public object to being forced to switch before they’ve had a chance to make their choice.

Hayward resident Elizabeth Jolivet said, “They should at least say, these are your choices, this is what’s going to happen. Not, oh, this is what happened now make a choice. There’s a difference.”

Mendall says they have to do that to give the fledgling energy company a chance to be viable, knowing that a lot of customers simply won’t pay much attention.

But in the meantime, the solar farm at the waste water plant is going to be tripled in size, selling its electricity to East Bay Community Energy to help power homes and businesses in the city.

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Commercial customers will begin the switch in June while residential customers will start being enrolled in January of 2019.