D.93-11-013 in Order Instituting Investigation (OII) 91-01-01211 adopted a benchmark of 4% of total budgeted project costs for low-cost EMF mitigation in new and upgraded projects unless exempted by a utility's design guidelines exemption criteria.12 ORA contends that the Commission should remain flexible in applying the 4% benchmark as minor increases in EMF mitigation costs may result in significant EMF reductions. ORA recommends that the Commission not consider 4% as an absolute cap, but does not propose a specific alternate percentage benchmark.
While we are not convinced a change in the 4% benchmark is warranted, we believe ORA's argument is consistent with our current policy that provides for potential mitigation measures that might exceed the 4% benchmark. In D.04-08-046 (Application (A.) 02-09-043 addressing construction of the Jefferson-Martin transmission line) we provided additional EMF mitigation which exceeded the 4% benchmark. Although this was a special condition applied to construction of the Jefferson-Martin transmission line, we recognize there may be a future unique instance in which the 4% benchmark might be exceeded. Therefore, while we continue our current policy of low-cost/no cost EMF mitigation, as defined by a 4% benchmark of total project cost, we would consider minor increases above the 4% benchmark if justified under unique circumstances, but not as a routine application in utility design guidelines. We add the additional distinction that any EMF mitigation cost increases above the 4% benchmark should result in significant EMF mitigation to be justified, and the total costs should be relatively low.
Parties ask whether the 4% benchmark calculation should apply to the total costs of electric projects which include transmission lines and substation components, or whether the transmission lines and substations should be evaluated separately. In D.04-08-046,13 we stated that the low cost EMF measures would be based on the total project cost, including both the transmission line and substations. No party has recommended applying the 4% separately. Therefore, we will apply the 4% benchmark calculation to the total project cost.
11 OII 91-01-012 was an investigation to develop policies and procedures for addressing the potential health effects of electric and magnetic fields of utility facilities.
12 Ordering Paragraphs (OP) 1 and 6, pp. 55-56.
13 Mimeo., p. 101.