Inventory of the California Energy Commission: Siting and Environmental Division Records

Processed by The California State Archives staff; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by Brooke Dykman Dockter.
California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2246
Fax: (916) 653-7363
© 2000
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the California Energy Commission: Siting and Environmental Division Records

Inventory: F3912

California State Archives

Office of the Secretary of State

Sacramento, California

Contact Information:

  • California State Archives
  • 1020 "O" Street
  • Sacramento, California 95814
  • Phone: (916) 653-2246
  • Fax: (916) 653-7363
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
The California State Archives staff
© 2000 California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: California Energy Commission: Siting and Environmental Division Records
Inventory: F3912
Creator: California Energy Commission
Repository: California State Archives
Sacramento, California
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Publication Rights

For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], California Energy Commission: Siting and Environmental Division Records, F3912, California State Archives.

Agency History

The California Energy Commission was created in 1974 pursuant to the Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Act (Stats. 1974, ch. 276). Prior to the development of the Commission, utilities wanting to construct an energy facility faced a fragmented and lengthy siting process that necessitated authorization of local, state, and federal agencies. Beginning in the mid 1960s the Resources Agency assumed the duties of determining acceptability of proposed sites and coordinating the activities of state agencies connected to the siting process. The changing environmental laws at the state and federal levels and the need for a formalized siting process prompted the Legislature to introduce several siting bills beginning in the 1970 session. In response to the oil shortage of 1973, the Governor signed A.B. 1575 (1974) into law, which consolidated the operations of energy forecasting, conservation, development, and siting within a single agency.
The California Energy Commission consists of five members appointed by the Governor for staggered five-year terms, with one member designated as chair. Four of the five members must have backgrounds in specific fields -- environmental sciences, economics, engineering, and law, while one is from the public at large.
The Energy Commission is responsible for the assessment, development, and conservation of energy and energy resources in the state, and it is empowered with the authority to certify all sites and related energy generating facilities. Using data supplied by utilities concerning projected supply and demand of electricity in their service areas, the Commission forecasts the state's short and long-term energy requirements. It will also assess trends in the consumption of electricity and other forms of energy, and it examines the impact of energy development on California's social, economic, and environmental structure. The Commission conducts research and funds development of alternative energy sources and improved methods for the design, construction, and operation of energy facilities. Conservation activities focus on the regulation of the growth rate of energy use in the state. The Commission carries out a program to reduce uneconomic and inefficient consumption of energy, and it establishes regulations for appliance efficiency, building insulation, and the operation of power plants. The Commission also takes action on applications for proposed facilities, and certifies sites and facilities after an extensive review process.
As of 1989 the Commission consisted of five divisions: Administrative Services; Energy Forecasting and Planning; Energy Efficiency and Local Assistance; Energy Technology and Development; and Energy Facilities Siting and Environmental Protection.

Arrangement and Description


1. Power Plant Siting Case Files. 1971-1982. F3912:279-480.

Physical Description: 10 cubic feet.

Scope and Content Note


Arranged alphabetically by project and topically thereunder.
Power plant siting case project files of five geothermal facilities and one oil-fired, combined-cycle facility. The projects included are: Department of Water Resources' Bottle Rock Power Plant (on-line in 1984); Department of Water Resources' South Geysers Power Plant; Northern California Power Agency's Geothermal Project 1; Pacific Gas and Electric's Geysers Unit 16 (on-line in 1985); Pacific Gas and Electric's Geysers Unit 18 (on-line in 1983); and Pacific Gas and Electric's Pittsburg Units 8 & 9. The case project files cover a wide range of subjects, including environmental concerns, questions of possible public health impacts, land use issues, and disputes regarding the extent of the Commission's certification jurisdiction. The topics include, but are not exclusive of, project and agency correspondence, technical subject staff assessments, position statements, written testimony, environmental impact reports, hearing transcripts, briefs, and exhibits and references. The Geysers Unit 16 files in particular contain a sizable amount of transcripts.
Two significant issues covered in the files are the questions of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emmissions in the Geysers Known Geothermal Resource Area and, particularly with regard to P.G.&E.'s Geysers Unit 16 plant, intense local opposition to the construction of an associated transmission line through several sensitive areas.
For the most part, the records reflect the agency's consolidated power plant siting process, which is divided into two phases. The Notice of Intention identifies several potential sites before the specific proposal is approved. Within the NOI process, the Commission evaluates potential alternative sites, considers the suitability and acceptability of the proposed sites, and determines the probable need for the project. The review time for the NOI is nine months for geothermal projects and twelve months for non-geothermal and transmission line projects. The second phase, the Application for Certification, evaluates the applicant's actual need for the facility with regard to its conformance with the projected electricity demand. The AFC will determine the facility's compliance with applicable laws and standards for its design, construction, and operation. It also examines the environmental, health and safety, and legal impacts of the project. The review time for the AFC can be from twelve to eighteen months.