XII. Comments on Proposed Decision

The proposed decision of the ALJ in this matter was mailed to the parties in accordance with § 311(d) and Rule 77.1 of the Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure. A proposed alternate decision was mailed by President Michael R. Peevey. Comments and/or reply comments on the proposed decision and the proposed alternate decision were filed by PG&E, ORA, ISO, the City of Burlingame, Daly City, the Town of Hillsborough, the City of San Bruno, CCSF, South San Francisco and CBE-101, 280 Citizens, CARE, Genentech, and Southern California Edison Company (SCE).39

We have considered the filed comments and reply comments, many of which reiterate previously expressed views. Based on these comments, we have made a number of modifications and clarifications to the decision, several of which warrant separate discussion.

In comments, Hillsborough opposes the permanent overhead option for crossing Crystal Springs Dam. PG&E requests that it be provided broader flexibility regarding crossing the dam than the proposed decision would have allowed, including the face of the dam option. We have accommodated these concerns as explained in Section VII.A.

Burlingame supports a Golf Course Drive hybrid alternative for the southern portion of the Jefferson-Martin project. We have clarified the decision to better explain our selection of the Trousdale Drive hybrid route in lieu of the Golf Course Drive alternative.

280 Citizens suggests that adverse effects on the Loma Vista and Skyview neighborhoods could be addressed by a modification to the Trousdale Drive hybrid route chosen by the proposed decision. In this alternative, the underground 230 kV line would leave Skyline Boulevard near Summit Drive and would be collocated with the 60 kV line underground north along the existing 60 kV right of way for approximately 0.7 mile. The 230 kV and 60 kV lines would then be routed underground through a new corridor to Skyline Boulevard, which they would follow for the last 0.2 mile to Trousdale Drive, where they would turn west to the Trousdale Drive transition station.

280 Citizens characterizes this proposal as a variation of the West of Skyline Boulevard alternative route segment suggested in Burlingame's comments on the DEIR. 280 Citizens asserts that this alternative would significantly reduce EMF exposure to residents in the area and would remove approximately one mile of highly visible 60 kV towers and lines. 280 Citizens states that, because much of the route would follow PG&E's Proposed Project route, the FEIR has already evaluated the existing environment and construction impacts in the area. It points out that this area is predominantly non-native grassland with no sensitive serpentine habitat and suggests that any potential environmental impacts could be sufficiently mitigated by mitigation measures already identified in the FEIR. 280 Citizens maintains that any additional needed environmental review could be completed through an addendum to the FEIR without delaying construction in any material respect.

In reply comments, PG&E and CCSF oppose consideration of 280 Citizens's West of Skyline alternative at this late date. PG&E submits that this route would involve underground construction in watershed areas and that its consideration would require recirculation of the FEIR with concomitant construction delays. PG&E points out that the hybrid southern route adopted in the proposed decision would be underground in this area and thus would have no visual impacts on these neighborhoods. PG&E also disputes 280 Citizens's EMF concerns.

On July 1, 2004, 280 Citizens filed a motion, which PG&E opposes, seeking that the record be reopened for receipt of five photographs regarding its West of Skyline alternative. Those photographs are not needed for our consideration of 280 Citizens' comments, and the motion is denied.

We do not accept 280 Citizens's request that a new route alternative be examined west of Skyline in the Loma Vista and Skyview neighborhoods. To put it simply, this alternative would transfer impacts from certain residences along Skyline Boulevard to other residences adjacent to the SFPUC watershed. As shown by the FEIR (FEIR Volume 2 at Ap. 1-54), 280 Citizens's proposed route would traverse residential properties at both the north and south ends. 280 Citizens's suggestion that this route alternative would be constructed at least fifty feet from residential property boundaries is not possible, at least for those properties abutting the Caltrans right-of-way for I-280. In addition, compared to the adopted route, 280 Citizens's proposal would actually increase EMF levels for residences along the 0.2 mile of Skyline Boulevard where both the 60 kV and 230 kV lines would be undergrounded. Our adopted EMF mitigation measures require that the 230 kV trench be lowered an additional 5 feet in residential areas, which provides a reasonable amount of EMF mitigation along Skyline Boulevard. We find no merit in 280 Citizens's proposal.

Several parties comment on the proposed decision's instruction that PG&E not begin construction on the northern section of the Jefferson-Martin project until evaluation is completed of two route alternatives that did not receive full consideration in the FEIR. In comments, Daly City, South San Francisco, the County of San Mateo, and 280 Citizens support while PG&E and CARE oppose further study of the San Bruno Mountain alternative. In addition, PG&E opposes further study of the El Camino Real alternative to use of the BART right of way. As explained in Section V.B.4, we determine that these two route alternatives do not warrant further review.

Parties' comments regarding EMF policies and mitigation largely mirror positions taken during the hearings and in briefs, which are not repeated here. PG&E states that it would undertake most of the EMF mitigation required by the proposed decision as part of its final EMF management plan, including a triangular configuration of conductors in underground duct banks as a no-cost EMF reduction measure and strategic placement of the line to reduce EMF exposure as a no-cost and low-cost measure. We note, however, that PG&E did not include these measures in its preliminary EMF management plan for the Jefferson-Martin project. As a result, in Section VI.C we affirmatively require the use of these no-cost and low-cost measures.

The proposed decision would have required focused low-cost EMF mitigation in some residential areas if the trench could not be lowered an additional 5 feet in all residential areas within a 4% EMF mitigation budget. PG&E is concerned that undertaking EMF mitigation for some but not all residential areas could create a risk of perceived unfairness. PG&E also asserts that it is infeasible to determine final placement of the entire line before construction begins in order to assess which residences could be targeted for deeper trenches within an EMF budget. PG&E argues further that the proposed decision's requirement that the trench depth be lowered for all residential buildings with EMF exposures in excess of 3 mG. would create a de facto 3 mG magnetic field standard. PG&E reports that it expects to lower the trench somewhat, but less than 5 feet, for residential blocks where a 15% effectiveness test is met, to the extent allowed by the EMF budget.40 As explained in Section VI.C, we simplify the low-cost residential EMF mitigation program to require that the trench be lowered by 5 feet in all residential areas where this would reduce magnetic fields at least 15%.

In their comments, several parties request changes to the adopted mitigation measures. PG&E proposes a further slight modification to mitigation measures B-5a and B-8a regarding the relocation of disturbed wildlife, which is reasonable and is adopted in the FEIR addendum attached as Appendix A and included in the comprehensive list of approved mitigation measures in Appendix B. CCSF suggests certain mitigations for environmental impacts of the overhead line segment north of Trousdale Drive. A review of CCSF's recommended mitigation measures reveals that its concerns are already addressed by the FEIR mitigation measures contained in Appendix B.

The City of San Bruno requests confirmation that PG&E must comply with certain specified FEIR mitigation measures. PG&E is required to comply with the mitigation measures contained in Appendix B, which includes all of the mitigation measures identified by San Bruno except mitigation measure L-4d. That measure was intended only for the northern Collocation Alternative along Seventh Avenue and is not relevant to the adopted route. San Bruno also asks that Commission monitors provide copies of weekly monitoring reports and contact San Bruno if construction problems arise. During the construction monitoring period, weekly monitoring reports are posted on the Commission's web site and would identify any problems that have arisen. Because San Bruno may access those reports, we see no need to require that the reports be affirmatively provided to the City.

San Bruno requests further that PG&E cooperate with San Bruno in designing the line to preserve utility corridors for future city utility needs. Mitigation measure U-1b, which requires that PG&E coordinate with local jurisdictions in final siting within streets, should address San Bruno's concerns in this respect. Finally, San Bruno asks that PG&E be required to compensate it for costs incurred in reviewing design and construction of the line. Since the issue of reimbursement of local government costs was not raised during the hearings, we suggest that San Bruno discuss this matter with PG&E to determine PG&E's practices and plans in this regard.

39 The ALJ granted SCE's motion to intervene for purposes of commenting on the treatment of EMF issues in the proposed decision and proposed alternate decision. SCE's comments are generally consistent with PG&E's views on this matter. 40 In response to a July 2, 2004 ALJ ruling, PG&E filed estimates regarding EMF mitigation costs for the adopted route. Due to concerns regarding their accuracy, as voiced by 280 Citizens, we decline to reopen the record to receive these cost estimates.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext PageGo To First Page