BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 796
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 8, 2013

                    ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON UTILITIES AND COMMERCE
                               Steven Bradford, Chair
           AB 796 (Muratsuchi) - As Proposed to be Amended:  April 8, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :   Thermal powerplant certification: sea level rise

           SUMMARY  :   This bill would require the California Energy  
          Commission (CEC) to consider the effects of sea level rise on  
          the proposed site and related facility during the certification  
          process. 

           EXISTING LAW  

          a)The CEC has authority to issue permits for "thermal"  
            powerplants," meaning any stationary or floating electrical  
            generating facility using any source of thermal energy, with a  
            generating capacity of 50 megawatts or more, and any related  
            facilities. Thermal powerplant does not include any wind,  
            hydroelectric, or solar photovoltaic electrical generating  
            facility. (Public Resources Code 25550)

          b)The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is required to shall  
            develop preliminary maps for the 100- and 200-year flood  
            plains protected by project levees to provide cities and  
            counties with best available flood risk data to support future  
            flood planning needs. (Water Code 9610)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Author's Statement. "This bill is an important step towards  
            preparing our coastal cities against the possible, negative  
            effects of climate change. Sea level rise has the dangerous  
            potential of wreaking havoc upon our cities' infrastructures,  
            and we must ensure we prepare adequately to respond to  
            possible future crises."

          2)According to "The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California  
            Coast," a 2009 report by the California Climate Change Center,  
            funded through the CEC's Public Interest Energy Research  
            Program (PIER):









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               "We estimate that a 1.4 meter sealevel rise will put  
               480,000 people at risk of a 100year flood event, given  
               todays population. Among those affected are large numbers  
               of lowincome people and communities of color, which are  
               especially vulnerable. Critical infrastructure, such as  
               roads, hospitals, schools, emergency facilities, wastewater  
               treatment plants, power plants, and more will also be at  
               increased risk of inundation, as are vast areas of wetlands  
               and other natural ecosystems."

               "Sea levels are expected to continue to rise, and the rate  
               of increase will likely accelerate. In order to evaluate  
               climate change impacts, the Intergovernmental Panel on  
               Climate Change (IPCC) developed future emission scenarios  
               that differ based on assumptions about economic  
               development, population, regulation, and technology (see  
               Box 1 for a description of the scenarios). Based on these  
               scenarios, mean sea level was projected to rise by 0.2 m to  
               0.6 m by 2100, relative to a baseline of 19801999, in  
               response to changes in oceanic temperature and the exchange  
               of water between oceans and landbased reservoirs, such as  
               glaciers and ice sheets."

               "Based on a set of climate scenarios prepared for the  
               California Energy Commissions Public Interest Energy  
               Research (PIER) Climate Change Research Program project  
               that, under medium to mediumhigh emissions scenarios, mean  
               sea level along the California coast will rise from 1.0  
               to1.4 meters (m) by the year 2100."

          3)CEC regulations currently require power plant permit  
            applicants to provide a detailed description of the hydrologic  
            setting of the project, including a map and narrative  
            description that includes ground water bodies and related  
            geologic structures, water inundation zones, such as 100-year  
            flood plain and tsunami run-up zones, flood control  
            facilities, groundwater wells within  mile of project that  
            include pumping. (Title 20, Division 2, Section 2022)


          4)The CEC prepares environmental documentation as required by  
            the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

           5)Flood Insurance Rate Maps  . In addition to the DWR floodplain  
            maps, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses Flood  








                                                                  AB 796
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            Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) to determine the flood risk that  
            home and business owners face. The FEMA maps are the official  
            maps of a community on which FEMA has delineated both the  
            special hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to  
            the community. FEMA's Risk Analysis Division applies  
            engineering, planning, and advanced technology to determine  
            the potential impact of natural hazard events and to develop  
            strategies to manage the risks associated with these hazards 
                
          6)What's a floodplain? A floodplain is defined as any land area  
            subject to inundation by floodwaters from any source and a  
            100-year flood is a flood having a one percent (1%) chance of  
            being equaled or exceeded in any given year (a 1/100th chance  
            or 1% chance of occurring in any year).

           7)Projected flood impacts of Climate Change vary  . According to  
            the PIER report they used a medium-high scenario of 1.0 to 1.4  
            meters by 2100. They note however that the IPCC panel  
            projected a rise of 0.2 to 0.6 meters by 2100.

           8)Technical Amendment.  It is unclear how the CEC is to  
            "consider" the effects of sea-level rise on power plant  
            permitting when estimates of sea level rise are inconsistent.  
            The following amendment makes the language more specific with  
            regard to how the CEC is expected to address sea-level rise in  
            siting cases and permissively allows the CEC to rely on the  
            floodplain maps published by DWR. The author may wish to amend  
            the bill to clarify these provisions.


            25525.5. In the issuance of a certification pursuant to this  
            chapter, the commission shall consider the effects of sea  
            level rise  on   in the context of protecting  the proposed site  
            and related facility  from potential damage caused by sea level  
            rise, such as storm surges and flooding. In assessing the sea  
            level rise, the commission may rely on floodplain maps  
            published by the Department of Water Resources.  

          


           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           








                                                                  AB 796
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          Sierra Club California

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Susan Kateley / U. & C. / (916)  
          319-2083