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California Air Quality Permit for Construction Activities (15-CA-a(1))

Information current as of 2020
In California, bulk transmission project construction activities and equipment (e.g., certain diesel generators, construction equipment, fugitive dust emissions) may require an Air Quality Permit from one or more of California’s 35 Air Quality Management Districts and Air Pollution Control Districts (Air Districts), which the California Air Resources Board (CARB) oversees.

If a developer plans to own or operate a portable engine of 50 horsepower (hp) or greater, the developer may need a permit or registration to legally operate it in California. California’s local Air Districts have the authority to determine which portable engines require permits. Therefore, the developer should check with the appropriate Air Districts regarding the specific permitting requirements for the project equipment. California Air Resources Board – Guide to Off-Road Vehicle & Equipment Regulations. A developer may choose to participate in CARB’s voluntary state-wide Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) to operate certain portable equipment throughout the state in lieu of obtaining permits from any of California’s 35 individual Air Districts. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2451. Internal combustion engines (diesel compression ignition and spark ignition) that power generators that qualify as nonroad engines may register through PERP if eligibility requirements are met. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2456.

A developer using certain heavy-duty diesel construction equipment must comply with California’s Regulation for In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets (Off-Road Diesel Regulation) by registering vehicles subject to the rule in the California Air Resources Board – Diesel Off-Road Online Reporting System (DOORS). Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449. The Off-Road Diesel Regulation applies to off-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles in California, including, but not limited to, vehicles with off-road engines of 25 hp or greater, cranes with two engines, and vehicles with two engines that have an auxiliary engine of 50bhp or greater and do not have a tier 0 auxiliary engine. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(b)(1)–(2).

A developer must also comply with each applicable Air District’s fugitive dust rules, which may require a developer to take certain precautions to prevent fugitive dust from becoming airborne.



Air Quality Permit for Construction Activities Process


15-CA-a.1 – Consult the Applicable Air District(s)

The developer should consult with the applicable Air District(s) to determine if the developer needs an Air District permit or registration to legally operate portable, temporary diesel generators and other construction equipment in California. If the local Air District determines that a permit or registration is required, the developer may opt to apply for a statewide PERP registration with CARB if eligibility requirements are met. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2456(f)(1).

15-CA-a.2 to 15-CA-a.3 – Register Heavy-Duty, Off-Road Diesel Vehicles

A developer using certain heavy-duty diesel construction vehicles must comply with California’s Regulation for In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets (Off-Road Diesel Regulation) by registering vehicles subject to the rule in the California Air Resources Board – Diesel Off-Road Online Reporting System (DOORS). Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449. The Off-Road Diesel Regulation applies to off-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles in California, including, but not limited to, vehicles with off-road engines of 25 hp or greater, cranes with two engines, and vehicles with two engines that have an auxiliary engine of 50bhp or greater and do not have a tier 0 auxiliary engine. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(b)(1)–(2). In certain cases, the Off-Road Diesel Regulation also prevents a developer from adding older engines to a fleet. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(d)(6).

Owners and operators of heavy-duty off-road diesel equipment already in use in California were required to register their vehicles under this program no later than March 1, 2012. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(g)(1). Owners and operators of new vehicles subject to this rule must register them within 30 days of purchase or bringing such vehicles into the State of California. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(g)(1); (g)(3).

In order to register vehicles, the developer must submit the information required in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(g)(1)(A)–(H) through DOORS. Upon submitting the information, the DOORS system will generate an Equipment Identification Number (EIN), which the developer must permanently affix to the vehicle within 30 days of receiving it and in accordance with Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(f)(2).

The Off-Road Diesel Regulation also contains restrictions on idling and other performance requirements, as well as recordkeeping and annual reporting requirements. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2449(d)–(h).

15-CA-a.4 – Registration Application for the Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) (Optional)

A developer may choose to participate in CARB’s voluntary PERP to operate certain portable equipment throughout the state in lieu of obtaining permits from any of California’s 35 individual Air Districts. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2451.

If an Air District determines that an Air District permit is required for equipment previously registered through PERP, the developer must comply with the Air District’s determination and apply for an Air District permit. California Air Resources Board – Portable Equipment Frequently Asked Questions. In this case, the PERP registration would be invalid for the project location(s) as determined by the Air District. A developer should consult with each applicable Air District to determine whether the developer must obtain an Air Quality Permit from the individual Air District, or if the PERP registration is valid for the duration of the project.

To register equipment under PERP, a developer must first submit the applicable equipment-specific application(s), which are available at California Air Resources Board – PERP Application, Record Keeping & Reporting Forms. Each initial Application must include, at a minimum, the following information:

  • An indication of general nature of business (e.g., rental business, etc.);
  • The name of applicant, including mailing address, email address, and telephone number;
  • A brief description of typical engine or equipment unit use;
  • A detailed description, including engine or equipment unit make, model, manufacture year (for portable engines only), rated brake horsepower, throughput, capacity, emission control equipment, and serial number;
  • Necessary engineering data, emissions test data, or manufacturer’s emissions data to demonstrate compliance with the requirements as specified in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 §§ 2455; 2456; 2457;
  • When required, per PERP application forms, a material flow chart or diagram for equipment units showing the maximum throughput scenario with all components in operational configuration;
  • For resident engines, a copy of either a current permit to operate that was granted by a district, or documentation as described in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2452(mm); and
  • The printed name and written or electronic signature of the responsible official and date of the signature.
  • A designated home district as defined in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2452(q).

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2453(h); (j)(1).

15-CA-a.5 to 15-CA-a.8 – Is the Application Complete?

Within 30 days of receipt of a PERP Application, CARB must notify the applicant (developer), in writing, whether the developer’s Application for registration under PERP is deficient. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2453(d).

CARB must identify the specific information required to make the Application complete if the Application is deemed deficient. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2453(d). CARB must deny the Application for registration no later than 90 days after receipt if the developer fails to provide the requested information or fees. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2453(d).

15-CA-a.9 – Portable Equipment Registration

If CARB finds that an engine or equipment unit meets all of the requirements of Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2450–65 and all applicable fees have been submitted, CARB must issue registration within 90 days of the date an Application is deemed complete. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13-3 § 2453(e)–(f).


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