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ALJ/eap Mailed 3/6/2007
Decision 07-03-012 March 1, 2007
BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
In the Matter of the Application of Southern California Edison Company (U 338-E) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Concerning the Antelope-Pardee Project as Required by Decision 04-06-010 and as Modified by Subsequent Assigned Commissioner Ruling.
(Filed December 9, 2004)
OPINION GRANTING A CERTIFICATE OF
PUBLIC CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY
(See Attachment C - Service List - for List of Appearances)
OPINION GRANTING A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC CONVENIENCE
AND NECESSITY 1
I. Summary 2
II. Background 5
III. Project Need Pursuant to § 399.25 10
IV. Alternatives to the Proposed Project and the No Project Alternative 18
V. Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project and Route Alternatives 25
A. Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project Proposed Route and Alternatives Reviewed in Final EIR/EIS 27
1. Description of Proposed Route 27
2. Alternative 1: Partial Undergrounding of Proposed Antelope-Pardee Line 29
3. Alternative 2: Antelope-Pardee East Mid-Slope 32
4. Alternative 3: Single-Circuit Towers Between Haskell Canyon
and the Pardee Substation 33
5. Alternative 4: Re-Routing of New Right-of-Way Along Haskell Canyon 35
6. Alternative 5: Sierra Pelona Re-Route 37
B. Alternatives Presented in Response to the Draft EIR/EIS 40
VI. EMF Issues 46
VII. Environmental Impacts of the Antelope-Pardee Transmission
Project and Route Alternatives 49
A. Impacts on Visual Resources 50
1. Construction Impacts on Visual Resources (All Alternatives) 52
2. Visual Impacts of the Proposed Project 53
3. Visual Impacts of Alternative 1 54
4. Visual Impacts of Alternative 2 55
5. Visual Impacts of Alternative 3 55
6. Visual Impacts of Alternative 4 56
7. Visual Impacts of Alternative 5 57
8. Comparative Discussion 58
B. Impacts on Forest Management 59
C. Land Use and Public Recreation 62
1. Existing Residential Land Uses 63
2. Disruption of Existing Commercial Land Uses 64
3. Degradation of Recreational Trails 65
4. Degradation of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Routes 66
D. Socio-Economics 68
E. Noise Impacts 70
1. Construction Noise 70
2. Noise Caused by Routine Inspection and Maintenance 71
3. Noise Impacts on Recreational Users Within the ANF 71
4. Noise Impacts on Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch 72
F. Air Quality Impacts 73
VIII. Project Authorization and Statement of Overriding Considerations 75
A. Adequacy and Certification of the Final EIR/EIS 75
B. Environmentally Superior Alternative 77
1. Alternative 2 Versus Alternative 5 79
a) Visual Impacts 80
b) Fire Suppression 80
c) Noise 81
d) Socio-economic Impacts 82
2. A Combination of Alternative 2, Alternative 4 and the Proposed Project is Environmentally Preferred 82
C. Project Authorization 83
D. Statement of Overriding Considerations 86
E. Mitigation Monitoring 87
IX. Cost Recovery Issues Raised by § 399.25 88
X. Maximum Cost Pursuant to § 1005.5(a) 92
XI. Comments on Proposed Decision 93
XII. Assignment of Proceeding 105
Findings of Fact 105
Conclusions of Law 109
Attachment A - Environmental Mitigation Measures Applicable to Approved Transmission Project
Attachment B - CEQA Findings of Fact
Attachment C - Service List
Attachment D - Addendum to the Final EIR/EIS
This decision grants a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to Southern California Edison Company (SCE) to construct a transmission facility in the wind rich Tehachapi region of California. Pursuant to §§ 399.25 and 1001 of the Public Utilities Code,1 this decision grants SCE the authority to construct the Antelope-Pardee transmission line project (Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project or Segment 1),2 in order to ensure access to wind power development in the Tehachapi area and to prevent overloading of existing transmission facilities. Our finding of need for this Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project implements a series of earlier determinations made by this Commission regarding the need to construct transmission lines to the Tehachapi region to facilitate the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals set forth in § 399.11, et seq.3 Those Commission Decisions (D.) include D.03-07-033, D.04-06-010, and D.06-06-034.
Section 399.25 directs the Commission to deem necessary those transmission facilities identified in applications if the proposed facilities are necessary to facilitate achievement of the State's renewable power goals. Section 399.25 also provides a "backstop" cost mechanism allowing the utilities to recover through retail rates any costs of the above facilities that are not approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for recovery through transmission rates.
In D.06-06-034 we, among other things, adopted principles for applying the backstop cost recovery mechanism created by § 399.25. Noting our determination in D.04-06-010 regarding the magnitude and concentration of the renewable resources located in the Tehachapi area and identified in the California Energy Commission's November 19, 2003 "Renewable Resource Development Report," 4 we concluded that the costs associated with high-voltage, bulk-transfer, multi-user transmission facilities proposed to access known, concentrated renewable resource areas are eligible for cost recovery under § 399.25. D.06-06-034, mimeo. at p. 27.
The Commission made a preliminary finding of need for the project in D.04-06-010. Affirming both D.04-06-010 and D.06-06-034, this decision finds, among other things, that the Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project is such a high voltage, bulk-transfer, multi-user facility that is needed to access a concentrated renewable resource area. Consequently, the project is eligible for cost recovery through retail rates under § 399.25, to the extent such cost recovery is necessary.
Pursuant to § 1005.5(a), we adopt $92.5 million as a cost cap for the Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project. The project we approve today is not identical to the project for which SCE developed its cost estimate. SCE may thus apply for a higher maximum cost if it can provide adequate justification, and must apply for a lower maximum if it appears that actual cost will be lower than the adopted estimated by at least 1%.
The Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project includes the construction of a new 25.6-mile, 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line to connect SCE's existing Antelope Substation, located in Lancaster, with SCE's existing Pardee Substation, located in Santa Clarita. Initially, the transmission line will be energized at 220 kV. The project also includes an expansion of the Antelope substation and the relocation of several existing 66 kV transmission lines in the vicinity of the Antelope substation.
The Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIR/EIS) for the Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project, prepared jointly by the Commission pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)5 and the United States Forest Service (USFS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), identifies an environmentally superior route that differs from the route proposed by SCE. The environmentally superior route is a combination of the proposed route and alternative route segments identified as Alternatives 2 and 4. We approve the environmentally superior route.
In addition, the Final EIR/EIS finds that the authorized project has several significant environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated. We adopt the mitigation measures recommended in the Final EIR/EIS, in order to reduce the environmental impacts to the extent feasible; however, some impacts will remain significant even after the implementation of mitigation. The approved mitigation measures are contained in Attachment A to this decision. The Commission also adopts the mitigation monitoring plan proposed in the Final EIR/EIS. SCE must comply with the adopted mitigation measures and mitigation monitoring plan as a condition of accepting its CPCN. We certify that the Final EIR/EIS has been completed in compliance with CEQA. Our formal certification can be found in Section VIII below.
Upon balancing the substantial economic, operational, legal, technological, social and other benefits of the proposed Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project against the unavoidable environmental impacts, we find that the project should be approved, with the conditions contained in this decision. By this decision, we adopt the included statement of overriding considerations for the authorized Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project, as required by CEQA.
1 Unless otherwise indicated, statutory references are to the Public Utilities Codes.
2 The Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project has also been referred to as "Segment 1 of the Antelope Transmission Project" or "Phase 1 of the Tehachapi upgrades." Hereinafter, the "Antelope Transmission Project", which refers to all the upgrades in the region needed to bring Tehachapi wind to the electric grid, will be referred to as the "Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Plan" or "TRTP."
3 No party to this proceeding disputes that the project is needed.
4 "Renewable Resource Development Report," CEC Publication Number 500-03-080F, November 2003.
5 Public Resources Code § 21000 et seq.