ECORP provided a variety of Biological Resources Management Services for Southern Calfornia Edison as part of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, Segments 4-11, at all stages of the project’s development. The project consisted of nearly 175 miles of transmission lines, which distribute 4,500 megawatts of electricity from Kern County to Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
Services completed for the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project included special-status species surveys and relocation efforts, construction monitoring for biological resources, revegetation/restoration oversight and monitoring, and the completion of documentation for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Special-Status Species Surveys and Relocation Efforts
Before construction began on the Tehachapi Transmission Project, ECORP biologists performed a variety of preconstruction surveys and sweeps, protocol-focused special-status species surveys, species translocation plans, and species relocations efforts.
Preconstruction surveys and sweeps included scheduling and assignment of approved biologists, daily upload of survey data, and completion of a preconstruction survey report and clearance sweep report.
Protocol-focused surveys for special-status species included a review of all supporting materials prior to surveys, habitat assessment and vegetation mapping, an assemblage of an experienced field survey team, and the completion of a focused survey report. Species surveyed included:
- Desert tortoise
- Swainson’s hawk
- Riparian birds
- California gnatcatcher
- Sensitive herpetofauna
- Burrowing owl
- Rare plants
Species translocation plans ensured compliance with the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project Mitigation Monitoring Plan and Incidental Take Permit. These plans included detailed personnel qualifications, handling procedures, and monitoring requirements. Covered species included burrowing owl, desert kit fox, desert tortoise, and Mohave ground squirrel.
Relocation efforts for special-status species ensured compliance with all environmental regulations. Several species were passively relocated including burrowing owls, desert kit fox, and desert woodrats. As part of the relocation efforts, ECORP biologists completed relocation reports.
Lastly, nesting and breeding bird surveys were completed to ensure the protection of birds nesting or breeding at or near the project site. These surveys included scheduling and assigning approved biologists, submitting daily and weekly reports during the course of the project, and compiling data pertaining to nest locations and status as well as established buffers when discovered.
Construction Monitoring Services for Biological Resources
Following the completion of preconstruction surveys, ECORP staff engaged in daily construction monitoring during the duration of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project. This included designating qualified biologists as Lead Monitors for individual project segments. Lead Monitors were responsible for
- The day-to-day scheduling and oversight of biological monitors
- Completing daily and weekly field forms and weekly summary reports
- Facilitating construction contractor compliance
- Elevating compliance concerns and biological resource issues to the Managing Monitor and the SCE Biology Team
- Conducting regular construction sweeps to document compliance with environmental regulations
- Preparing daily biological monitoring reports and submitting them electronically through a proprietary database
- Presenting daily environmental briefings at worksite tailboards
- Providing daily look-ahead emails summarizing anticipated needs for monitoring
- Communicating monitoring and survey activities to the larger compliance team
- Participating in worker education training sessions
Much of the construction monitoring activities were simplified with the use of in-house Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Cartography Services which provided field support for surveys and monitoring activities, vegetation mapping, report figures, and maintenance of a data dictionary.
Environmental Documentation for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
ECORP staff also completed documentation with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to ensure compliance with all environmental regulations at the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project site.
Notice to Proceed Requests (NTPR) supported the CPUC review process by summarizing the most current biological resources information including
- Site-specific maps
- Previously completed biological resources impacts analysis
- Federal, state, and local permits and take authorizations
- Site-specific restoration plans
- Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs)
- A list of mitigation measures and applicant proposed measures (APMs) that apply throughout that construction segment consistent with the TRTP Mitigation Monitoring Plan
Addendum and Variance Requests were prepared as required on each project segment to further support the CPUC approval process. These documents included a summary of the project variance, a site-specific map, a detailed explanation and rationale for the variance request, and a biological resources impact analysis. ECORP staff completed multiple variances during construction to avoid or minimize impacts to biological resources.
Environmental Consulting Services Provided
- CEQA and NEPA Documentation, Processing, and Review
- Biological Resources Management Services
- Special-Status Species Surveys, Translocation Plans, and Relocation Efforts
- Bat Surveys and Bat Management
- Nesting and Breeding Bird Surveys
- Revegetation/restoration oversight and monitoring
- Construction Monitoring Services
- Geospatial Services
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Cartography Services