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California Bulk Transmission Environmental Review(9-CA)

California Environmental Quality Act Process

Transmission lines 200kV or greater are required to undergo a two-part state siting and permitting process with the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC). One part of the process will analyze the need for the project and consists of obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the CPUC. The other part of the process will analyze environmental and community impacts in the environmental analysis for CEQA. The environmental analysis process ensures that environmental impacts are evaluated pursuant to CEQA. P.R.C. § 21000-21189.3 et.seq. The proponent will first develop and submit a Proponent's Environmental Assessment (PEA), which includes detailed analysis of environmental resources, community values, aesthetic resources, and historic resources. P.U.C. § 1002 Project alternatives are also included in the environmental analysis and must include the methods used to arrive at the proposed proposal and alternatives, and the alternatives considered but eliminated and the reasons for elimination. P.U.C. § 1002.3 Alternatives are discussed in the detailed discussion of significant impacts chapter of the PEA. The environmental impact assessment summary section of the PEA includes the following resources:

  • Aesthetics
  • Agriculture Resources
  • Air Quality
  • Biological Resources
  • Cultural Resources
  • Geology, Soils, and Seismicity
  • Hazards and Hazardous Materials
  • Hydrology and Water Quality
  • Land Use and Planning
  • Mineral Resources
  • Noise
  • Population and Housing
  • Public Services
  • Recreation
  • Transportation and Traffic
  • Utilities and Services Systems
  • Cumulative Analysis
  • Growth-Inducing Impacts, If Significant

Under CEQA, every development permit is assigned a “lead agency” to coordinate the environmental review among all other state or local agencies. Some state agencies have developed their own environmental review processes in lieu of preparing Environmental Impact Reports (EIR). Developers may qualify for a categorical exemption outlined in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14 §§ 15300-15333, or a statutory exemption outlined in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14 §§ 15260-15285. The lead agency will conduct and initial survey to determine whether an environmental document must be prepared. If an environmental document is necessary, then the developer will be required to participate in one or more scoping meetings. The lead agency will develop Draft and Final Environmental Impact Reports, and respond to any public comments. Developers may continue with their project following issuance of a Final Environmental Impact Report and the approval of any required permits.

Local Process
Local jurisdictions do not have siting authority for transmission facilities.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

California Federal

Environmental Review: All "discretionary projects" which require the exercise of judgment or deliberation, carried out, or approved by state agencies must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. Cal. Pub. Res. Code §21080(a).
Environmental Review Agency: California State Water Resources Control Board
Applicable MOU with FERC: Yes, the memorandum of understanding establishes the principles governing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and California State Water Resources Control Board coordination of pre-application activities. Memorandum of Understanding 2013.