BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 796
                                                                  Page 1

          Date of Hearing:  April 29, 2013

                                Wesley Chesbro, Chair
                  AB 796 (Muratsuchi) - As Amended:  April 10, 2013
          SUBJECT  :  Energy:  thermal powerplants:  certification:  sea  
          level rise

           SUMMARY  :  Requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to  
          consider the effects of sea level rise on a proposed thermal  
          power plant during the certification process. 
           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Authorizes the CEC 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.   
            A thermal powerplant does not include any wind, hydroelectric,  
            or solar photovoltaic electrical generating facility. 

          2)Requires the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to 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. 

           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)Background.   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):

               "We estimate that a 1.4 meter sealevel rise [projected by  


                                                                  AB 796
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               the year 2100] 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  

               "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."

          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. 4) Give the threat of sea level rise on the  
            state's infrastructure, environment, and economy, it seems  
            reasonable and good public policy that CEC be required to  
            consider sea level rise during the permitting process for a  
            power plant.


          Coast Environmental Rights Foundation
          Sierra Club California



                                                                  AB 796
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          None on file

          Analysis Prepared by  :  Mario DeBernardo / NAT. RES. / (916)