Duke Energy for the Morro Bay Power Plant Project Committee Order
[California Energy Commission Letterhead]


Energy Resources
Conservation and Development Commission

In the Matter of:                   )      Docket No. 00-AFC-12
Application for Certification       )
for the                             )
Duke Energy for the                 )      Application complete
Morro Bay Power Plant Project       )      January 10, 2001




  1. CEQA Baseline

    At the Committee Status Conference, held on August 16, 2001 in the City of Morro Bay, Duke Energy Morro Bay LLC, (Applicant) alleged that the California Energy Commission staff (Staff) had applied in its Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA), an inconsistent baseline for its evaluation of environmental impacts from the proposed Morro Bay Power Plant Modernization Project (Project).

    Specifically, Applicant stated that, with one exception, the various analyses contained in the PSA evaluated impacts of the Project against a baseline of the existing physical conditions in the area. Since these conditions include the existing Morro Bay Power Plant, the baseline includes the effects of that older, existing power plant and the PSA analyzes any changes which would result from replacing the old facility with the proposed Project. The sole exception to this approach is in the PSA section on biology, where Staff apparently evaluated the environmental effects of the proposed Project against an environmental baseline which did not include the effects caused by the existing Morro Bay Power Plant. At the Status Conference, Staff representatives acknowledged the inconsistency between the biology section and other parts of the PSA.

    At the Status Conference the Committee expressed concern that the Staff approach in the biology section of the PSA, if repeated in the Final Staff Assessment (FSA), would result in an analysis inconsistent with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In a ruling from the bench, the Committee ordered Staff to include in its FSA, a biological analysis that assumes, as a baseline, the existing physical conditions in the affected area, as required by CEQA. (Title 14, California Code of Regulations, section 15126.6(a)) . While Staff may include other forms of analysis at its discretion, it must do no less than conduct a complete analysis pursuant to the standards set forth in the controlling statute and regulations.

  2. Case Schedule Recommendations

    In a letter dated August 13, 2001, Roger W. Briggs, Executive Director of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Coast Region, stated that the Regional Board could not prepare a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the Project as previously scheduled. He noted that, due to the identification of potentially significant impacts associated with the Project's cooling water intake of water from the Morro Bay Estuary, the Regional Board needs additional analyses from the Energy Commission staff. He requests that the Commission staff conduct a detailed site-specific CEQA analysis for each of three alternative measures designed to mitigate impacts from the Project's intake of estuary water for its once-through cooling water system. The alternative mitigation measures to be analyzed include dry cooling, the use of an aquatic filter barrier, and additional details concerning habitat enhancement measures.

    The requested analyses are likely to have a substantial effect on the 12-month schedule for the case. Therefore, the Committee directed Applicant and Staff to meet and discuss adjustments to the case schedule. The parties must submit their proposed schedule recommendations to the Committee no later than close of business on Friday, August 24, 2001.

    So Ordered.


    Dated: August 22, 2001, at Sacramento, California.




    Commissioner and Presiding Member
    Morro Bay AFC Committee

    Chairman and Associate Member
    Morro Bay AFC Committee

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