Notice of Exemption
[California Energy Commission Letterhead]


Energy Resources
Conservation and Development Commission

DATE: December 18, 2002
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Nancy Tronaas, Compliance Project Manager

On December 3, 2002, the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) received a petition from Elk Hills Power, LLC (EHP) to revise transportation Condition of Certification TRANS-7, of the Energy Commission Decision for the Elk Hills Power Project (EHPP). TRANS-7 currently restricts the use of a construction access road for a temporary period of time (until the completion of the construction of the project) and limits its use to heavy and/or oversized equipment and materials. The petition requests that the access road be approved for permanent use, thereby allowing both heavy and/or oversized equipment/ materials and vehicle traffic. The access road would serve as the main entrance to the facility.

EHPP is a 500 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant located within the Elk Hills Oil and Gas field, approximately 25 miles west of Bakersfield between the communities of Buttonwillow and Taft in Kern County. The power plant is currently under construction, and is scheduled for commercial operation in April 2003. The project site is located northwest of the intersection of Elk Hills Road (public) and Skyline Road (private). EHPP currently uses two access roads to the project site. The primary access is from Skyline Road on the south side of the site through an Occidental of Elk Hills, Inc. (OEHI) security gate that serves the adjacent natural gas processing complex operated by OEHI. The second access road intersects with Elk Hills Road approximately 600 feet north of Skyline Road, and is used by heavy construction equipment.


The petition requests revisions to TRANS-7 to remove the "construction phase only" restriction on the access road that intersects with Elk Hills Road. EHP requests permission to develop it as permanent access to the project site after the conclusion of construction activities. The road is 40 feet wide and 135 feet long, and will be paved with asphalt. Security features will be installed at the proposed new permanent gate, including fencing, key-card access, and video camera monitoring.

Elk Hills Road will be restriped to accommodate the proposed permanent access road. This project modification will then allow EHP to eliminate the current access from Skyline Road through OEHI's security gate, and to direct all EHPP traffic through one security gate off of Elk Hills Road.


Energy Commission staff reviewed this request to assess the impacts of this proposal on environmental quality, public health and safety, and determined that they only technical area affected was traffic/transportation. The review included an evaluation of the consistency of the proposed revision with the Energy Commission's Decision and if the project will remain in compliance with applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS) (Title 20, California Code of Regulations, Section 1769).

Condition of Certification TRANS-7, approved by the Energy Commission in December 2000, requires the project owner to provide two entrances to the power plant site. The primary entrance to the facility is off of Skyline Road, west of Elk Hills Road and is currently used by construction workforce and other routine traffic. A temporary access road, located about 600 feet north of the intersection of Skyline Road and Elk Hills Road, is used only to receive heavy and/or over-sized equipment and materials during construction of the project. The Kern County Roads Department approved the location and use of the temporary access road. The temporary access was constructed under Kern County Encroachment Permit No. 01750-01.

The Kern County Roads Department has reviewed the project owner's request to convert/change the existing temporary use access to a permanent access. The County Roads Department has stated that the encroachment permit issued for the temporary access (Permit No. 0175-01) is still active, and once construction on the project has been completed, the project owner can use the construction road as a permanent access. In a letter dated July 22, 2002, the Roads Department stated that the permanent use of the access road is in conformance with Kern County regulations.

Energy Commission staff determined that no traffic conflicts have been identified by the Kern County Roads Department, since improved safety and vehicular turn movements, including the restriping of Elk Hills Road and the elimination of use of OEHI's private road, are to occur. The project will remain in compliance with all applicable LORS and no adverse environmental impacts will result from this change to TRANS-7.


(Deleted text is in strikethrough, new text is underlined):

TRANS-7     The project owner shall provide two entrances to the Elk Hills Power Project throughout the construction phase for the project. The project owner shall direct normal traffic to and from the power plant site through the existing OEHI of Elk Hills, Inc. gate located on the west side of Elk Hills Road at Skyline Road. Upon completion of the construction phase of the project, this entrance shall cease to be used by the project owner. The project owner shall construct a temporary, 40-foot wide, 135-foot long access road extending from Elk Hills Road approximately 600 feet north of the intersection of Skyline Road and Elk Hills Road. The project owner access road shall only be utilized the temporary access road for receiving heavy and over-sized equipment and materials during project construction. Upon completion of the construction phase of the project, this access road shall be used as a permanent access and the main entrance serving the facility. Both heavy and over-sized equipment and materials, and normal traffic, shall use this access road.

Verification:     At least thirty (30) days prior to the start of project construction, the project owner shall provide the CPM with written documentation explaining how the project owner will direct normal traffic to utilize the existing access road at Skyline Road. The project owner also shall document how normal traffic will be prevented from using the temporary access road off Elk Hills Road north of Skyline Road, which is intended only for use by trucks delivering heavy and/or over-sized construction equipment and materials during the construction phase. At least 30 days prior to the start of project construction, the project owner also shall provide the CPM a copy of the approved encroachment permit that Kern County requires for construction of the temporary access road off Elk Hills Road. At least 30 days prior to the use of the access road for permanent use, the project owner shall provide the CPM with a schedule for restriping Elk Hills Road to accommodate the access road. The restriping and any other construction-related activities required by Kern County for the access road shall be completed within 90 days after the date of its use as a permanent access first occurred.


Energy Commission staff intends to recommend approval of this revision to TRANS-7 at the January 8, 2003 Business Meeting of the Energy Commission. If you would like to make comments regarding this proposal, please contact Nancy Tronaas, Compliance Project Manager, at (916) 654-3864, at the address on this letterhead, or by e-mail at no later than 5:00 P.M., January 7, 2003. If you would like a copy of the petition, or the Energy Commission Order if this revision is approved, please complete the enclosed Information Request Form and return it to the address shown.

For further information on how to participate in this proceeding, or if you require special accommodations, please contact Ms. Roberta Mendonca, the Energy Commission's Public Adviser, at (916) 654-4489 or toll free in California at (800) 822-6228. News media inquiries should be directed to Assistant Director, Claudia Chandler, at (916) 654-4989.

Mail List #745

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