Energy Resources
Conservation and Development Commission

In the Matter of:                        )   Docket No. 97-AFC-1
The Application for Certification        )   COMMITTEE ORDER re:
for the High Desert Power Project (HDPP) )   SPECIFIC RESPONSES


As part of its January 29, 1998 Scheduling Order, the Committee directed the parties to address three "specific responses."{ 1 } Applicant, staff and the California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) filed written submissions on these matters on February 27, 1998. The parties then discussed their respective positions at the March 3, 1998 Committee Conference.

The present ORDER clarifies the scope of the analysis anticipated by the Committee on the topics of "Decommissioning/Closure" and "Project Configuration" in future documents and testimony. The Independent System Operator has committed to a cooperative, active and timely role as explained at the Conference; the Committee therefore perceives no need at this time for further clarification of the general matters discussed under the "Transmission" topic.


Decommissioning/Closure. The Committee believes Staff has proposed an adequate and workable format in which to analyze decommissioning/closure considerations potentially associated with the proposed project. Basically, the Committee anticipates that the parties will address project decommissioning/closure, based on applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards which protect public health and safety, as part of the analysis for each individual technical area. Parties should propose Conditions of Certification where appropriate. Next, project features which present the potential for significant environmental impacts at the end of the project's useful life should be subjected to a screening analysis, with a recommendation as to whether such potential impacts are most appropriately addressed in a proposed Condition of Certification or as part of a draft closure plan or otherdocument to be submitted at the end of the project's useful life. Discussion of the need for financial assurances for the removal of hazardous and toxic materials from the site in the case of both unexpected and planned closures, as well as the form of such assurances, should also be included.

Project Configuration. The project is presently proposed as being one of three possible configurations, with accompanying varying levels of electricity production. While such a project proposal is not typical in Commission proceedings, Staff has suggested an analytic framework which apparently would allow effective analysis of the multiple configurations. Staff's approach would also allow the public to readily understand the comparative impacts of each configuration, which also addresses concerns raised by CURE. This framework is not based on the composite "worst case" analysis offered by Applicant, but rather encompasses an evaluation of each configuration individually, including that of alternatives appropriate to each configuration.

The Committee agrees that, given the current project proposal, parties must identify impacts, appropriate mitigation, and alternatives pertinent to each of the three configurations. Furthermore, the Committee anticipates that the evidentiary record, which will be developed through future hearings, will address all issues relevant to each configuration and provide a sufficient basis to support necessary findings for each configuration. Of particular concern to the Committee in this regard, however, is whether the scope of the transmission interconnection study proposed by Applicant is adequate to address each of the three proposed configurations. Therefore, the Committee directs that Staff review the study scope and address the adequacy thereof as part of its March 25, 1998 status report.

The Committee also agrees that one of the necessary goals which must be achieved is to ensure that the written documents analyzing the project configurations (the first of which will be the Preliminary Staff Assessment) are clear and readily understandable, not only to the participating parties, but also to the interested public in general. In order to assess progress in this regard, the Committee directs Staff to include, as part of its March 25, 1998 status report, a detailed outline of the probable contents of its Preliminary Staff Assessment (due May 15, 1998).


The Committee orders the following:

  1. The "Decommissioning/Closure" analysis shall proceed in conformity with Staff's recommendation, as discussed above.

  2. Each of the three proposed project configurations shall be individually analyzed, as proposed by Staff and as discussed above.

  3. Staff shall, and other parties may, assess the scope of the transmission interconnection study and indicate whether it believes the study scope is sufficient to adequately analyze the impacts of each of the three proposed project configurations. Responses are due as part of the March 25, 1998 status report.

  4. Staff shall provide a detailed outline of the probable contents of its Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA). The outline should explain the general organizational structure of the PSA, including how differences in impacts among each of the three project configurations will be displayed, as well as any other pertinent matters. This outline shall be included as part of the March 25, 1998 status report.

Dated Online: March 20, 1998

Presiding Committee Member

ROBERT A. LAURIE, Commissioner
Associate Committee Member


  1. These topics were entitled "Decommissioning/Closure, Transmission and Project Configuration."