Welcome to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) website
for SCE's Downs Substation Expansion Project. This website provides
information on the status of CPUC's environmental review, permitting,
and construction monitoring of the project, as Lead Agency, under
the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). An Application
for this Project was submitted to the CPUC on December 29,
(A.10-12-016). A Final Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND)
was prepared by CPUC for the Project in accordance with CEQA. The
CPUC voted on November 29, 2012, to approve the SCE Downs Substation
Expansion Project and Final MND (Decision D.12-11-027).
This website provides access to public documents and information
relevant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review
Construction activities for the Downs Substation Expansion Project
began in November 2014 and were completed in December 2015, at which
time the expanded 115 kV substation area was energized. During that
time, work outside of the substation including installation of 115
kV tubular steel poles and telecommunication facilities, and upgrades
at the Searles, McGen, and Inyokern Substation also occurred March
through September 2015. Following energization, demolition of old
33 kV structures, upgrades to remaining 33 kV structures, driveway
paving, and final demobilization were completed by the end of April
Compliance monitoring was conducted by CPUC to chronicle and document
SCE's compliance with project mitigation measures, compliance plans,
and permit conditions. Compliance monitoring was implemented, in
accordance with CEQA, to minimize or eliminate potential significant
impacts and to protect environmental resources. A summary of the
compliance monitoring program is provided below and a Final Report
on the construction and monitoring of the Project is available here.
Construction & Mitigation
Mitigation Monitoring, Compliance, and Reporting Plan
Following CPUC approval, a Mitigation Monitoring, Compliance, and
Reporting Plan (MMCRP) was prepared to ensure compliance APMs and
mitigation measures approved in the Final MND and is available here.
The MMCRP provides guidelines and standardize procedures for environmental
compliance during project implementation. The MMCRP procedures describe
the reporting relationships, the roles and responsibilities of the
project's environmental compliance team members, compliance reporting
procedures, and the communication protocol.
Notices to Proceed with Construction
As defined by the MMCRP, CPUC must issue a Notice to Proceed (NTP)
before construction can start. SCE was required to submit a formal
request for an NTP. On projects where there may be multiple work
packages or work sites, SCE may elect to request separate NTPs.
For the Downs Substation Project, SCE submitted two NTP requests
(see table below). CPUC reviewed each NTP request and the applicable
pre-construction requirements to ensure that all of the information
required to process and approve the NTP was included. NTPs issued
by CPUC for the Downs Substation Expansion Project are provided
in the table below.
Notice to Proceed
||Downs Substation expansion only.
||115 kV and fiber optic installations and substation
upgrades in Kern and San Bernardino Counties, and City of Ridgecrest.
Construction began in November 2014. The linear portion of the
project was completed on September 29, 2015. The expanded Downs
Substation became operational December 3, 2015. Additional
retrofit and demolition work is scheduled for completion April 2016.
Weekly reports documenting construction and compliance activities
can be viewed here.
Minor Project Changes
As defined by the MMCRP, at various times throughout project construction,
minor changes to the project, such as the need for additional or
revised workspace, are anticipated and common practice for construction
efforts of this scale and a Minor Project Change request would be
required for such activities. The CPUC Project Manager, along with
the CPUC Environmental Monitors, will implement the Minor Project
Change procedures defined in the MMCRP to evaluate each proposed
project change for its potential for creating significant environmental
effects to determine whether supplemental CEQA review is required.
NTPs issued by CPUC for the Downs Substation Expansion Project are
provided in the table below.
Minor Project Changes
||Additional access roads at the Downs Substation
||Installation of privacy slats on all chain link
fencing encompassing the perimeter of the Downs Substation,
including the expansion area.
The proposed Downs Substation Expansion Project (Proposed Project)
includes the following components:
- Upgrading and expanding the existing Downs 33/12 kV Substation
to a 115/12 kV substation containing a 115 kV switchrack and approximately
1,000 feet of new access road (new driveway);
- Upgrading protection relays inside the Mechanical and Electrical
Equipment Room (MEER) at Inyokern, McGen and Searles Substations;
- Routing an existing 115 kV subtransmission line into and out
of the Downs Substation;
- Installing a fiber optic telecommunication system (including
58 miles of fiber optic telecommunication cable, generally located
aboveground on existing 115 kV poles with a few short segments
ranging from a few hundred feet to a few thousand feet placed
underground to allow interconnection to the Ridgecrest Service
Center and the Inyokern, McGen, and Searles Substations) to provide
communication circuits for the protection, monitoring, and control
of subtransmission and substation equipment; and
- As part of the fiber optic telecommunication system, replacement
of six 115 kV subtransmission line poles along the Inyokern-McGen-Searles
No. 1 115 kV subtransmission line near the community of Trona
in San Bernardino County. No new access roads are planned for
installation of the fiber optic telecommunications line.
Regionally, the proposed Downs Substation expansion site would
be located approximately one mile west of State Route 178 and approximately
3.9 miles northeast of U.S. Route 395 in northeastern Kern County.
More specifically, the proposed Downs Substation expansion and the
routing of an existing 115 kV subtransmission line into and out
of the proposed substation are located at the southwest corner of
the intersection of Ridgecrest Boulevard and Downs Street in the
city of Ridgecrest, Kern County, California. The substation site
is bounded to the east by Downs Street, to the north by West Ridgecrest
Boulevard, and the closest roadways to the south and west are West
Church Avenue and South Mahan Street, respectively. The existing
Downs Substation encompasses approximately one acre of land within
the city of Ridgecrest; the proposed expansion of the Downs Substation
would require an additional 2.5 acres of a 4.6-acre parcel of SCE-owned
land adjacent to the existing Downs Substation.
The Proposed Project also includes the replacement of six 115 kV
subtransmission line poles along the Inyokern-McGen-Searles No. 1
115 kV subtransmission line near the community of Trona in San Bernardino
County. Additionally, the stringing of fiber optic telecommunication
cable along both the Inyokern-McGen-Searles No. 1 and No. 2
115 kV subtransmission lines would be located in the city of Ridgecrest,
the unincorporated communities of Inyokern, Argus, and Trona in
the Counties of Kern and San Bernardino.
SCE filed a Proponent's Environmental Assessment (PEA) with the
Application on December 29, 2010. This document provided a
starting point for the environmental review process conducted by
SCE's Application and PEA were deemed complete by the CPUC on May 2,
On January 23, 2012, the CPUC released a Notice of Intent to Adopt
a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for the Downs Substation
Expansion Project, showing that the Proposed Project, as mitigated,
would not have any significant effects on the environment.
The Draft MND underwent a public review period from January 23,
2012, through February 21, 2012.
On July 24, 2012, the CPUC released a Final MND for the Downs Substation
Expansion Project, showing that the Proposed Project, as mitigated,
would not have any significant effects on the environment. The Final
MND details the Proposed Project, evaluates and describes its potential
environmental impacts, identifies those impacts that could be significant,
and presents mitigation measures to avoid or minimize these impacts.
The Final MND can be viewed here.
An errata to the Final MND is provided here.
The CPUC voted on November 29, 2012, to approve the SCE Downs Substation
Expansion Project and Final MND (Decision D.12-11-027) and a Notice
of Determination was submitted to the State Clearinghouse (SCH #2012011044).
The mitigation measures and applicant-proposed measures (APMs) described
in the Final MND were adopted by the CPUC as conditions of project
To request additional information, please contact the CPUC, as
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco CA 94102
Tel. (415) 703-1956