For immediate release: December 15, 1999
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989



Energy Commission Committee Finds Air, Water Deficiencies
with High Desert Power Project

Sacramento - A lack of air emissions offsets and the absence of a firm source of water are obstacles that need to be resolved before the proposed High Desert Power is ready for licensing by the California Energy Commission, says a Commission Siting Committee.

This information, contained in the Presiding Member's Proposed Decision on the High Desert Power Project, is subject to approval by the full five-member Energy Commission.

According to the committee, the project still needs adequate air emission offsets and a plan to provide water for the project without endangering sensitive biological species and habitat. These deficiencies stand in the way of High Desert's certification under the Warren-Alquist Act and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and are based upon evidence presented at formal public hearings.

The High Desert Power Project Committee is comprised of Energy Commissioner Robert A. Laurie, the Presiding Member, and Associate Member David A. Rohy, Commission Vice Chair.

High Desert will be located on the former George Air Force Base, one of the U.S. military bases closed in recent years. The $350 million proposed project is for two alternative natural gas-fired, combined-cycle configurations rated at 720 megawatts and 678 megawatts, respectively. The project applicant will decide which to build during the final design stage.

As well as the power plant's linear facilities, the project plans include a 32-mile long natural gas pipeline to be built by Southwest Gas. This pipeline traverses sensitive habit that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. A separate Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed project is being prepared by the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest and Wildlife Service.

The Proposed Decision contains a description of the High Desert Project, a summary of the proceedings to date, a summary of the evidence presented on issues in the proceeding, and the Committee's reasons for not recommending Commission certification of the project at the present time.

The Energy Commission has exclusive jurisdiction to certify the site and related facilities for thermal power plants in California that generate 50 megawatts or more of electricity. The Commission's review process includes a comprehensive and objective analysis of all issues including but not limited to public health and safety, air quality, hazardous materials, environmental impacts, engineering design and need. This process fulfills the obligations of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Persons who wish to receive a copy of the 252-page Proposed Decision may send a self-addressed mailing label to: Publications Unit, MS-13, California Energy Commission, 1516 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. The Proposed Decision will soon be available on the Commission's Web Site at:

www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/highdesert

The High Desert Siting Committee has scheduled a Public Conference on the Proposed Decision as follows:

Thursday, January 27, 2000
1 p.m.
Victorville City Hall
Council Chambers
14343 Civic Drive
Victorville. California
(Wheelchair accessible)

Interested persons may present oral comment on the Proposed Decision at this Committee Conference. Written comments must be submitted to the Commission Docket Unit, 1516 Ninth Street, MS-4, Sacramento, CA 95814, no later than 5 p.m. on January 18, 2000.

The Commission's Public Adviser, Roberta Mendonca, is available to provide additional information about how to participate in the proceeding. Contact her at (916) 654-4489, toll free at (800) 822-6228, or by e-mail at pao@energy.state.ca.us.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Members of the media who wish to receive the seven-page introduction to the Presiding Member's Proposed Decision on the High Desert Project by FAX may contact the Energy Commission's Media and Communications Office at (916) 654-4989. To receive a copy of the entire report, by mail, please call the same number.

The Commission's Web Site provides information on all power facility licensing cases currently before the Commission at: www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases

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