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Regulations Governing Siting of Electric Facilities in California. AEP Orange County Chapter June 30, 2009 Christine McLeod, Project Manager - Regulatory Policy & Affairs/Regulatory Operations Southern California Edison. Overview. California Public Utilities Commission

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regulations governing siting of electric facilities in california

Regulations Governing Siting of Electric Facilities in California

AEP Orange County Chapter

June 30, 2009

Christine McLeod, Project Manager - Regulatory Policy & Affairs/Regulatory Operations

Southern California Edison

  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • California Energy Commission
  • California Independent System Operator
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
california public utilities commission
California Public Utilities Commission
  • Regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies.
  • CPUC-regulated electricity market in California serves 10.48 million customers with 32,347 miles of transmission lines and 239,112 miles of distribution lines for a total economic value of $17.8 billion. 
  • Responsibilities of the CPUC include setting electric rates, protecting consumers, promoting energy efficiency, and ensuring electric system reliability.
cpuc general order 131 d
CPUC General Order 131-D
  • In 1994, the CPUC issued General Order No. 131-D (GO 131-D) to regulate the planning and construction of facilities for the generation of electricity and certain electric transmission and substation facilities.
  • The CPUC issued GO 131-D in order to be responsive to:
    • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Requirements (Public Resources Code sections 21000 et seq.)
    • Need for public notice and opportunity for affected parties to be heard by the CPUC
    • Obligations of utilities to serve their customers in a timely and efficient manner
projects covered under go 131 d
Projects Covered Under GO 131-D
  • Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity (CPCN)
    • New electric generating plants in excess of 50 MW
    • Modification, alteration, or addition to an existing electric generating plant that results in 50 MW or more in generating capacity
    • New transmission lines at 200 kV or above, unless project is exempt
  • Permit to Construct (PTC)
    • Power lines or substation projects between 50 - 200 kV, unless project is exempt
    • Substations 50 kV and above, unless project is exempt
  • PTC Exemptions (see next slide)
  • No CPUC Permit Required
    • Generation < 50 MW
    • Distribution Lines < 50 kV

GO 131-D PTC Exemptions

PTC exemptions are generally consistent with certain categorical

CEQA exemptions:

  • Replacement of power line facilities with equivalent structures (Exemption B)
  • Minor relocations up to 2,000 feet in length (Exemption C)
  • Conversion of existing overhead to underground (Exemption D)
  • Power lines or substations which undergo CEQA review as part of a larger project in which the final CEQA document (EIR or MND) finds no significant environmental impacts caused by the power line or substation (Exemption F)
  • Power line or substations to be located in existing franchise, road-widening setback, or utility easement or corridor (Exemption G)
  • Projects which are Categorically or Statutorily Exempt from CEQA (Exemption H)

A project that appears exempt may be subject to override of the

exemption under certain conditions

go 131 d and ceqa
GO 131-D and CEQA
  • The CPUC serves as Lead Agency under CEQA in reviewing projects subject to GO 131-D.
  • GO 131-D specifies PTC and CPCN application requirements, which include:
    • Proposed and Alternative Routes and Comparison
    • Maps
    • Purpose and Need statement
    • Governmental Agency Consultation
    • Project Schedule
    • Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) Management Plans
    • Proponent’s Environmental Assessment (PEA) information.

GO 131-D and CEQA (Continued)

  • CPUC CEQA review of PTC and CPCN applications may include:
    • Initial Study
    • Public Scoping Meetings
    • Agency Consultation
    • Issuance of MND or EIR for Public Comment
    • Hearings or Workshops
  • MNDs and EIRs issued by the CPUC are informational documents to inform the public on the environmental impacts of the proposed project and alternatives, and are used by the CPUC in conducting the regulatory proceeding to determine whether to grant the PTC or CPCN application.

GO 131-D and CEQA (Continued)

  • Facilities requiring either a CPCN or PTC may not commence construction until it has been determined that the project will not significantly impact the environment, as determined by CEQA standards.
  • Furthermore, facilities may be required to adhere to additional resource agency regulations beyond those established by the CPUC (e.g. California Coastal Commission, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service) if the project falls within the state or federal agency’s jurisdiction.

GO 131-D and Local Agencies

  • Clarifies that local jurisdictions are preempted from regulating electric power line projects, distribution lines, substations, or electric facilities constructed by public utilities subject to the CPUC’s jurisdiction.
  • Requires public utilities to consult with local agencies regarding land use matters and provides opportunity for local agencies and public utilities to resolve differences through CPUC hearing process.

How GO 131-D Affects Roadway and Development Projects

  • SCE cannot construct or relocate non-exempt 50 to 200 kV power line and substation projects without a PTC.
  • Depending on the extent of environmental sensitivity, SCE preparation of a PEA and PTC application may take up to 12 months, and the CPUC’s approval process may require an additional 18-24 months to complete.
  • SCE may be able to construct or relocate facilities driven by roadway or development projects if the Lead Agency includes environmental analysis of required SCE electric facilities in CEQA documents for proposed development.
  • If Lead Agency finds no significant unavoidable impacts, SCE portion of overall project is exempt under Exemption F of GO 131-D requirements, and SCE is not required to get a PTC from the CPUC.

If SCE Electric Infrastructure is not Included in CEQA Document for Larger Project

  • If SCE electric infrastructure is not included in CEQA document for larger project, OR if SCE project will cause significant environmental impacts, SCE must comply with CEQA through CPUC process
    • PEA must be prepared by SCE
    • PTC must be granted by CPUC
    • Total time – at least 24 months or longer
    • For projects over 200 kV, SCE must secure a a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the CPUC and undergo a similarly lengthy process.

California Energy Commission (CEC)

  • Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, the CEC has five major responsibilities:
      • Forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data.
      • Licensing thermal power plants 50 MW or larger.
      • Promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards.
      • Developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy.
      • Planning for and directing state response to energy emergency
  • Has the statutory responsibility for licensing thermal power plants 50 MW and larger and the plant’s related facilities such as transmission lines (e.g., “gen-ties”, fuel supply lines, water pipelines, etc.).
  • Serves as a Lead Agency under CEQA and includes many opportunities for public participation.
  • Its license/certification subsumes all requirements of state, local, or regional agencies otherwise required before a new plant is constructed.

CEC – Generation Siting Process

  • Application for Certification (AFC) Process - The traditional 12-month siting process for major energy facilities in the State of California.
  • Small Power Plant Exemption (SPPE) – Available for projects between 50 MW and 100 MW, provided the proposed project does not create an unmitigated significant impact on environmental resources.

California Independent System Operator

  • The CAISO Is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation that serves as the impartial link between power plants and the utilities that provide electricity to 30 million Californians.
  • Is charged with ensuring the safe and reliable transportation of electricity on the “electron superhighway” we know as the power grid.
  • A central function of the CAISO is to provide transparent information about the state of the system and prices.
  • Facilitates effective markets and promotes infrastructure development
  • Manages the Flex Your Power program to inform consumers about how they can conserve electricity and help "keep the lights on.”

CAISO – Transmission Planning

  • Fundamental role is to plan and promote the enhancement and expansion of transmission capabilities.
  • Develops comprehensive Transmission Plan, which focuses on expansion of the transmission system to support long-term power supply arrangements, long-term transmission rights, and the larger regional bilateral market.
  • Its planning process includes independent analyses and recommendations, opportunities for broad stakeholder input and independent CAISO Board of Governor approval, all of which is integrated into an annual CAISO Transmission Plan, project-specific reports, and specific resource adequacy studies for transmission-dependent local areas. 
  • The planning process can identify opportunities for partnership among CAISO, Participating Transmission Owners, and public and private entities to sponsor needed transmission lines. 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

  • Independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects.
  • Regulates the transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce.
  • Ensures the reliability of high voltage interstate transmission system.
  • Monitors and investigates energy markets.
  • Oversees environmental matters related to natural gas and hydroelectricity projects and major electricity policy initiatives.

FERC (Continued)

  • Areas considered outside of FERC's responsibility include the regulation of retail electricity and natural gas sales to consumers; and approval for the physical construction of electric generation, transmission, or distribution facilities, among other things.
  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave FERC additional responsibilities, including “back stop” transmission siting authority; however. the Commission’s authority is limited to those areas designated as National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors by Department of Energy.

Helpful Links

  • CPUC:
  • CPUC Transmission Information and Projects:
  • CPUC Environmental Review:
  • CEC:
  • CEC Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR):
  • CEC Facility Siting Process:
  • CAISO:
  • FERC: