[California Energy Commission Letterhead]

Docket No. 98-AFC-1

On March 11, 1999, the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) staff filed the Staff Assessment for the Pittsburg District Energy Facility (PDEF), a 500 megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired power plant. The proposed location for this plant is on a 12-acre site on East 3rd Street, west of the intersection of East 3rd Street and Columbia in the City of Pittsburg in Eastern Contra Costa County. The project's major linear features will include a new natural gas pipeline; a new pipeline for reclaimed water; a new 115 kilovolt transmission line that will interconnect with Pacific Gas and Electric's existing Pittsburg Power Plant substation; and a truck bypass road. The electric generating plant and related facilities, such as the electric transmission line, natural gas pipeline and water lines are under the Energy Commission's jurisdiction and cannot be constructed or operated without the Energy Commission's certification.


Staff is an independent party in the Energy Commission's power plant certification proceedings. This Staff Assessment is a staff document, and it examines engineering and environmental aspects of the proposed PDEF. The Staff Assessment contains analyses similar to those contained in Environmental Impact Reports required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The Staff Assessment presents staff's conclusions, recommendations and proposed conditions that would apply to the design, construction, operation and closure of the proposed PDEF, if the Energy Commission approves the certification of the PDEF. Staff has identified "major issues" for the proposed project in five technical areas: air quality, visual resources, land use, transmission system engineering and water resources.

Air Quality

Based on information currently available, staff believes there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the project, as proposed, will comply with all applicable air quality regulations and will not result in significant air quality environmental impacts. At the time this document was completed, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) had not yet published its Preliminary Determination of Compliance (DOC) that will contain their preliminary findings and formally proposed permit conditions. In the Staff Assessment, staff indicates the remaining information required to complete its analysis, including the final DOC and a valid emissions offset package approved by the BAAQMD. Once staff receives this information, the analysis can be completed and additional conditions of certification recommended, if appropriate.

Visual Resources

Staff has identified potentially significant adverse impacts from the PDEF that require mitigation beyond what is proposed by the applicant in the visual resources area. This determination was made based on information submitted by the applicant through February 1999 and concerns the above-ground-to-below-ground electric transition facilities and the nearest transmission line poles to the transition facilities. Staff has not yet had the opportunity to discuss this determination with the applicant, the local agencies, interested parties or the public to determine what appropriate mitigation can reduce this impact to a level of insignificance.

Land Use

In its review of the PDEF, staff identified that the stacks associated with the facility will exceed the height limitations imposed by Pittsburg ordinances. The applicant has yet to apply for a variance to this restriction and thus the staff is not able to make a determination of compliance with this ordinance. Also, staff has recently received input from the City of Antioch regarding the natural gas pipeline, but was unable to reflect this input prior to the publication of this SA. In addition, staff expects additional input from the City of Pittsburg regarding the project as a whole. Once received, staff will review this input and make appropriate changes to their analysis and reflect these changes in their recommended conditions of certification.

Transmission System Engineering

Staff's analysis is based upon PG&E's Preliminary Facilities Study of the PDEF, the California Independent System Operator's (Cal-ISO) input and input from the applicant. At this time, staff cannot determine if there will be any transmission system upgrades required beyond the point of interconnection as a result of the PDEF being added to the system. Nor can staff identify what mitigation, if any, the Cal-ISO will require to ensure that the applicant complies with transmission reliability criteria. PG&E will publish their Detailed Facilities Study for the PDEF approximately in May 1999.

Water Resources

The Delta Energy Center's (DEC) AFC was filed in December 1998. DEC, like PDEF will use effluent from the Delta Diablo wastewater Treatment Facility. Combined, the two projects will divert approximately 80 percent of the wastewater flow of the treatment plant. A significant portion of this flow to the two power plants is lost due to evaporation from the cooling cycle. The remaining flow is returned back to the wastewater treatment plant by PDEF and directly to the wastewater treatment plant outfall by DEC. A substantial portion of the inorganic constituents contained in the original effluent flow to the power plants, however, is concentrated in this remaining flow. Therefore, while total mass loading of these constituents to New York Slough will not change, the concentration of the wastewater treatment plant discharge will change, especially combined with the DEC discharge. Staff is continuing to evaluate any potential impacts to water quality, and working with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Delta Diablo Wastewater Treatment Facility to resolve these issues.


Energy Commission staff can not recommend approval of the PDEF at this time as it concerns air quality or visual resources. Nor can staff make a finding of conformity with the City of Pittsburg height restriction that pertains to the facility stacks. Energy Commission staff have scheduled workshops for March 23, 24 and 25 (if needed), 1999 to discuss this Staff Assessment. We expect to be able to resolve many if not all of the remaining issues and potential impacts identified in the Staff Assessment. Staff anticipates that it will submit supplemental testimony on April 12, 1999 in the areas of air quality, visual resources, land use, transmission system engineering and water resources.


Over the next few months, the Energy Commission will hold public workshops and conduct hearings on the proposal to determine whether the project should be approved for construction and operation and under what conditions. These workshops and hearings will provide the public as well as local, state and federal agencies the opportunity to ask questions about and provide input on the proposed project. If you are not currently receiving these notices and want to be placed on the mailing list, please contact Gina M. Mortholé, Project Secretary, at (916) 654-4235. Public workshops to discuss this Staff Assessment are scheduled for March 23, 24, and 25 (if needed), 1999 in Pittsburg, California. You may also provide any written comments you may have on the Staff Assessment to Lorraine White, the Energy Commission's Siting Project Manager for the PDEF.

Persons requiring information on how to participate in the Energy Commission's review of the project should contact Roberta Mendonca, the Energy Commission's Public Adviser, at (916) 654-4489, (800) 822-6228, or email pao@energy.state.ca.us. This document is also available in alternative format upon request. Technical or scheduling questions should be directed to Lorraine White, Siting Project Manager, at (916) 654-4075, or email at lwhite@energy.state.ca.us. The status of the project, and other relevant documents are available on the Energy Commission's Internet page at www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/pittsburg. News media inquiries should be directed to Assistant Executive Director, Claudia Chandler, at (916) 654-4989.

Download the Staff Assessment in Adobe Acrobat format
(492 pages, 1,100 kilobytes).

Date On-line: March 11, 1999

Deputy Director for
Energy Facilities Siting and Environmental Protection

Mail List 705 & 712

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