STATE OF CALIFORNIA PETE WILSON, Governor
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
505 VAN NESS AVENUE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102-3298
Notice of Preparation (NOP)
Environmental Impact Report
Proposed Divestiture of Electric Generation Assets by Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Application No. 98-01-008
On January 14, 1998, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) filed an application (Application No. 98-01-008) with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to sell (divest) four of its fossil-fueled power plants, and its Geysers geothermal power plant (Geysers Plant).
Specifically, PG&E proposes to sell its Hunters Point, Potrero, Pittsburg and Contra Costa power plants to one or more owners through a competitive auction. These plants are in San Francisco and Contra Costa Counties, and consist of a mix of 13 steam boiler units and four combustion turbine units that together represent 3,488 MW of net capacity. These units have accounted for about 51 percent of the net generation from PG&Es fossil plants over the last five years. The Hunters Point Power Plant is at 1000 Evans Avenue, about 0.5 miles northwest of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in the southeast portion of San Francisco, on the western shoreline of San Francisco Bay. The Potrero power plant is in San Francisco at 1201 Illinois Street, between 22nd and 23rd Streets. The Pittsburg power plant is at 696 West 10th Street, Pittsburg, California in Contra Costa County, alongside the San Francisco Bay delta. The Contra Costa power plant is about 2.5 miles east of the Antioch town center on the southern bank of the San Joaquin River near the Antioch Bridge. Figure 1 shows the location of these four power plants.
PG&E plans to transfer all facilities, equipment, permits, land interests and other entitlements for use that are required for continued operation of the plants, and to retain facilities and equipment at each site that relate to transmission or distribution. Minor construction activities may be necessary to separate generation from transmission and distribution facilities. The proposed divestiture does not otherwise directly involve any planned expansion, modification or dismantling of existing facilities and structures. The EIR will consider whether any expansion, modification or dismantling of facilities would be a reasonably foreseeable indirect result of the proposed divestiture.
In addition to the four fossil power plants mentioned above, PG&E also proposes to sell its Geysers Plant, which represents its entire operating geothermal electric generating capacity, to one or more buyers through a competitive auction. The Geysers Plant consists of 14 operating units, two of which are in Lake County and twelve of which are in Sonoma County. The Geysers Plant is in The Geysers area of the Mayacmas Mountains in Sonoma and Lake Counties, approximately 27 miles northeast of Healdsburg, California. Figure 1 shows the location of the Geysers Plant in Northern California. The individual units and related facilities that comprise the Geysers Plant are at 11 sites in various separate, smaller areas of the larger Geysers geothermal area. The total design net installed capacity of the Geysers Plant is 1,224 MW. Over the last five years, generation from the Geysers Plant has accounted for 6.6 percent of the total generation from PG&Es system.
Under the terms of this divestiture, PG&E will transfer (or the buyers will seek reissuance of) all environmental permits, leases, contracts, and other land use agreements. PG&E proposes to divest in a manner that they believe will enable the buyers to continue to meet the performance standards in existing permits, thereby minimizing or eliminating differences between PG&Es ownership and that of the buyers. PG&Es Proponents Environmental Assessment (PEA) identifies three sets of environmental regulations and permit conditions that cause special concerns in light of the potential for sales of the plants to multiple owners. These three areas of concern are:
The fossil-fueled power plants affect the environment primarily through air emissions resulting from combustion of fossil fuel, non-consumptive use of water and thermal discharges of water associated with cooling water and the wash-down of various plant components, as well as the handling and disposal of hazardous chemicals used in maintenance and production activities.
At the Geysers Plant, major potential environmental effects such as air pollution and hazardous wastes result primarily from naturally occurring constituents of geothermal steam. The quantities of many air pollutants and hazardous wastes generated from individual units are approximately proportional to the level of generation. The Geysers Plant has a "zero water discharge" program due to the fact that condensate produced at the Geysers Plant is returned to steam suppliers for re-injection into the steam field. Activities and physical structures on the site may affect sensitive species and available habitat. Noise is associated with the operation of cooling towers and other plant equipment.
The sale of any of the fossil-fueled plants or the Geysers Plant could have an effect on the environment, which might be significant, if the sale causes changes such as:
The Draft EIR will examine these issues. The EIR will focus on the topical areas that could be affected by the project, including: land use and planning; population and housing; geology; hydrology; air quality; transportation and circulation; biological resources; energy and mineral resources; hazards; noise; public services; utilities and service systems; aesthetics; cultural resources; and recreation. The EIR will address both project and cumulative effects, and will contain an analysis of alternatives to the sale of the power plants proposed by PG&E. PG&E has proposed mitigations in the PEAs which it believes ameliorate the significant environmental effects of the project. The PEAs are available for review at the CPUC at 505 Van Ness Avenue; please contact Mr. Kaneshiro to arrange to review them.
This Notice of Preparation has been sent to interested state, local, and federal agencies and to the State Clearinghouse. Affected agencies should identify the issues, within their statutory responsibilities, that should be considered in the Draft EIR. Written responses from all parties are due by March 18, 1998 to:
CPUC EIR Project Manager
C/O Environmental Science Associates
225 Bush Street, Suite 1700
San Francisco, CA 94104-4207
Messages for Mr. Kaneshiro may be left at (415) 989-1446 ext. 42. His fax number is (415) 896-0332. E-mail comments are encouraged; e-mail messages should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org, attention CPUC/Bruce Kaneshiro.
Information about this divestiture will be made available on the "Internet" (information on divestiture is available on the CPUC World Wide Web page at "http://www.pgedivest.com"; additional information regarding the overall electrical utility restructuring process is available at "http://www.cpuc.ca.gov").
This Notice of Preparation of an EIR has been issued by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Paul Clanon, Director