As the Final EIR/EIS notes, an important aspect of the environmental review process is the identification and assessment of a reasonable range of alternatives. The State CEQA Guidelines, at § 15126.6(d), require the selection of a reasonable range of alternatives to the proposed Project, including a No Project alternative. At the same time, CEQA does not require an EIR to consider every conceivable alternative to a project. See, CEQA Guidelines § 15126.6(a).
In its application and PEA, SCE identified several alternative routes for portions of the Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project. During the EIR/EIS scoping process, the Commission and USFS environmental teams identified additional alternatives to the proposed project, including minor routing adjustments, entirely different transmission line routes, alternative energy technologies, and non-wires alternatives. The 15 suggested alternatives were then screened according to CEQA and NEPA guidelines to determine which alternatives to carry forward for analysis in the EIR/EIS. (The methodology used for screening these alternatives is described in detail at pages B-51 to B-53 of the Final EIR/EIS.) The environmental team rejected 10 alternatives that did not meet CEQA and NEPA criteria for analysis. (A detailed discussion of the results of this screening analysis and of the alternatives that were eliminated from further review is set forth at pages B-53 to B-66 of the Final EIR/EIS.) The Final EIR/EIS provides a detailed analysis of five alternatives to portions of the proposed Antelope-to-Pardee route of the proposed project.
Based on comparison of the environmental impacts of the proposed project and alternatives, the Final EIR/EIS identifies the environmentally superior alternatives as follows:
· The middle portion of the Antelope-Pardee [Transmission] Project would be built on the east mid-slope of Del Sur Ridge and closer to Bouquet Canyon (Alternative 2); and
· The proposed project would be re-routed between miles 17.5 and 20.3 around the Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch and the proposed meadow park development neat Santa Clarita (Alternative 4).
In the following subsections, we first address the various alternatives that were studied in detail in the Draft and Final EIR/EIS. We then describe several additional alternatives that were proposed by parties who commented on the Draft EIR/EIS.
A. Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project Proposed Route and Alternatives Reviewed in Final EIR/EIS