BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                              1

                                 ALEX PADILLA, CHAIR

          AB 796 -  Muratsuchi                                   Hearing  
          Date:  June 18, 2013                 A
          As Amended:         April 10, 2013           FISCAL       B

           Current law  vests the California Energy Commission (CEC) with  
          exclusive certification jurisdiction over thermal powerplants  
          with a generating capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more, and any  
          appurtenant facilities, and permits a developer of a thermal  
          powerplant with a generating capacity of less than 50 MW to  
          voluntarily submit to the CEC's exclusive certification  
          jurisdiction.  The CEC is also required to cooperate with the  
          California Coastal Commission and the San Francisco Bay  
          Conservation and Development Commission in studying applications  
          for sites proposed to be located within the coastal zone, the  
          Suisun Marsh, or the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay  
          Conservation and Development Commission if requested by those  
          organizations. (Public Resources Codes 25500 and 25508)
          Current law  mandates that applications for site certification  
          include a description of the design, construction and operation  
          of the proposed facility, safety and reliability information,  
          site information (e.g., geological, ecological, water supply,  
          etc.), fuel information, electric line information, and other  
          information deemed necessary by the CEC. (Public Resources Code  

           This bill  would require that the CEC consider the potential  
          impacts and damage caused by sea level rise, such as storm  
          surges and flooding, in the process of certifying a site.



          The Pacific Institute published a research report in 2009<1>,  
          funded in part by the CEC, regarding the impacts of sea level  
          rise on the Californian coastline. Historically, the sea level  
          in the San Francisco Bay has risen 2.0 millimeters per year  
          between 1897 and 2006. The research considered impacts of medium  
          levels of greenhouse gas emissions that predict a sea level rise  
          ranging from 1.0 to 1.4 meters between 2000 and 2100. The  
          authors estimated that a 1.4 meter sea level rise would put  
          480,000 people at higher risk of a 100-year flood event (an  
          event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year). They  
          also estimated the costs related to property damage from this  
          flooding to be $100 billion (year 2000 dollars), whereas the  
          costs of protective seawalls and levees would be on the order of  
          $14 billion plus additional maintenance costs. Even regions that  
          are not susceptible to flooding are still susceptible to erosion  

          There are currently procedures in place that establish the  
          review of facility impacts on the environment. Most notably  
          these are codified in the California Environmental Quality Act.  
          Furthermore, other legislation has established California's  
          goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (AB 32, 2006).  
          However, neither of these statutes contains provisions that  
          protect facilities from impacts of potential changes in the  

          The Department of Water Resources (DWR) Division of Flood  
          Management provides statewide flood forecasting and emergency  
          response activities. The FloodSAFE California program  
          coordinates federal, state, and local officials in flood  
          management and emergency response systems throughout California.  
          The department produces "best available" maps of 100-year,  
          200-year, and 500-year floodplains, which are intended to inform  
          local districts for development planning purposes. The Federal  
          Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also produces floodplain  
          maps, but only for 100-year flood events. The maps developed by  
          the two agencies are not the same, and the National Flood  
          Insurance Program relies on data from FEMA maps. 

              1.   Author's Purpose  . The author is concerned that sea level  
          <1> Heberger, M. et al., "The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the  
          California Coast", 2009, CEC-500-20009-024-F


               rise may affect coastal power plants and related  
               facilities. The bill would require the CEC to consider  
               effects related to sea level rise on future power plants,  
               including risks due to storm surge and flooding. Current  
               law requires the CEC to consider the effects of the  
               facility on the environment, but does not require the  
               consideration of the reverse: effects of the environment on  
               the facility. 

              2.   Common Sense  ? It seems obvious that when considering the  
               site of a facility, an agency should consider and plan for  
               the effects of potential changes in the environment. This  
               is a somewhat difficult task because of the inherent  
               uncertainty in predictive models. However, incorporating a  
               review of potential sea level rise into the planning  
               structure could help prevent significant damage from storm  
               surges and flooding. 

              3.   Better Safe Than Sorry  . The magnitude of sea level rise  
               is not precisely determined and could range depending on a  
               variety of factors. CEC considerations will have to be  
               flexible enough to accommodate mild to severe sea level  
               rise. The bill is not specific in its direction, so the  
               exact implementation of considerations will be at the  
               discretion of the CEC. 

                                    ASSEMBLY VOTES
          Assembly Floor                     (54-20)
          Assembly Appropriations Committee  (12-5)
          Assembly Natural Resources Committee                            
          Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee                       




          California Coastkeeper Alliance
          Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation
          Sierra Club California

          None on file.

          Kyle Hiner 
          AB 796 Analysis
          Hearing Date:  June 18, 2013