1. The Sonoma County General Plan designates three types of areas that should be protected visually. These include Community Separators, Scenic Landscape Units and Scenic Corridors. The Fulton site includes two Scenic Corridors, River Road and Highway 101. No construction would occur on River Road.

    U.S. Highway 101 is located immediately adjacent to the northeast side of the Fulton site. The proposed facilities at the Fulton site include the placement of three 40-foot poles outside the substation and the placement of three 70-foot poles inside the security fence. The poles outside the substation fenceline are set back from the highway and their lower height would make them recede visually behind the landscaping along U.S. Highway 101. The 70-foot poles inside the fence line would be close to view lines from U.S. Highway 101 but located behind the trees in the landscaping area. Where viewed from U.S. Highway 101, these poles also would tend to merge visually with the substation facilities.

    Currently, where the Geysers-Fulton and Fulton-Ignacio 230 kV transmission lines and the Fulton Junction-Fulton 115 kV power lines cross Highway 101, motorists have brief views (approximately one to three seconds) of the substation when travelling at speeds of 50 mph, due to the openings between trees along the highway (PG&E 1998). Due to the wider gaps between trees along Highway 101 north of the substation, motorists travelling southbound have longer views (several seconds). Existing trees on the northern boundary of the PG&E property screen part of this view.

    The six proposed poles would be placed behind the existing trees and, therefore, would be partially screened. Based on consultation with the Sonoma County Planning Department, additional trees would be planted as part of the project along the northern PG&E boundary and along portions of the eastern and western sides of the substation to provide additional screening from U.S. Highway 101. The landscaping would effectively screen most of the existing structures within Scenic Corridors. Since the substation is an existing facility, a less than significant impact to scenic vistas or scenic highways would occur.

    The Geysers site is located in a remote area out of view from publicly accessible areas, and no specially protected aesthetic resources occur there.

  2. Pursuant to CEQA, public views are eligible for protection and/or mitigation from project effects that could have a demonstrable negative aesthetic impact. The PEA provides photo renderings of existing conditions and visual simulations of the proposed poles at the Fulton site (PG&E, 1998). As stated in the above discussion (a), additional trees would be planted to provide screening of the poles along U.S. Highway 101. As the trees grow, the Fulton substation would become less visible than under current conditions. The proposed facilities would be visible from behind other components of the Fulton substation from River Road. The proposed poles would not be visible from the residences located northeast of Fulton site. The proposed facilities in the Geysers are located in an area without any visual sensitive receptors. Therefore, visual impacts would be less than significant.

  3. The proposed facilities at the Fulton site would not include any new lighting. Several lights would be installed at the Geysers site. Since the Geysers site is located in a remote area out of public view, the proposed lighting addition would not create an impact. A non-reflective finish would be used on proposed poles, circuit breakers and other project components to prevent glare (PG&E 1998). Therefore, the project would have a less than significant impact related to the creation of light or glare on surrounding uses.

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