STATE OF CALIFORNIA
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

Southern California Edison's Proposed Downs Substation Expansion Project

(Application A.10-12-016, filed December 29, 2010)


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Welcome to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) website for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of Southern California Edison's (SCE) proposed Downs Substation Expansion Project. An Application for this project was submitted to the CPUC on December 29, 2010 (A.10-12-016). This site provides access to public documents and information relevant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process.

Background

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 (6) 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.

CPUC Application Review and Approval

The SCE Downs Substation Expansion Project was evaluated in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was prepared to inform the CPUC and public of the potential project impacts and available mitigation (information on the MND preparation is provided below). 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 approvals.

Construction & Mitigation Monitoring

Mitigation Monitoring, Compliance, and Reporting Plan

Following CPUC approval, a Draft Mitigation Monitoring, Compliance, and Reporting Plan (MMCRP) was prepared to ensure compliance APMs and mitigation measures approved in the Final MND as was provided to SCE for review and comment. 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. The MMCRP will be provided here when finalized.

Notices to Proceed with Construction

As defined by the MMCRP, CPUC must issue a Notice to Proceed (NTP) before construction can start. SCE will 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. Each separate NTP request will be applicable to a defined segment or aspect of the Project. CPUC will review the NTP request and the applicable pre-construction requirements to ensure that all of the information required to process and approve the NTP is included. CPUC may request additional information or clarification as needed. Based on information provided in the request for an NTP and its review, CPUC will issue the NTP. NTPs issued by CPUC to date for the Downs Substation Expansion Project are provided in the table below.

Notice to Proceed
Date Requested
Date Issued
Description
#1
09/04/14
Downs Substation expansion only; a second NTP will cover the remainder of the project at a later date.

Construction is scheduled to start in November 2014.

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 EMs, 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. No Minor Project Changes have been submitted by SCE for the Downs Substation Expansion Project to date.

Environmental Review Process

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 the CPUC.

SCE's Application and PEA were deemed complete by the CPUC on May 2, 2011.

The CPUC has determined that an Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) will be the appropriate CEQA document to be prepared for this project.The Draft IS/MND was published on January 23, 2012 and the Final IS/MND was published on July 24, 2012.

Final Mitigated Negative Declaration Preparation

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.

For Additional Information

To request additional information, please contact the CPUC, as follows:

Eric Chiang
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco CA 94102
Tel. (415) 703-1956
Email: eric.chiang@cpuc.ca.gov
   

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