PG&E Launches Industry-Leading Habitat Conservation Plan Regional Approach to Environmental Stewardship Improves Long-Term Habitat Protection and Customer Service
Release Date: February 25, 2008
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930
SAN FRANCISCO– Participating today in the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Camp – a five day program to help conservation practioners, resource managers and others grappling with climate change – Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced the launch of its Operations & Maintenance Habitat Conservation Plan (O&M HCP).
Developed in collaboration with federal and state natural resource agencies, the O&M HCP is an innovative new program that allows for a regional, activity-based approach to comply with the state and federal Endangered Species Act throughout the utility's northern and central California service area.
"PG&E's regional mitigation plan is a creative and responsible corporate approach to protecting imperiled species," said Susan Moore, field supervisor in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.
PG&E's Operations & Maintenance Habitat Conservation Plan is an extension of the utility's commitment to serve its customers and protect the environment by effectively balancing the utility's need to maintain existing gas and electric infrastructure, and perform work in a way that avoids and minimizes impacts to protected wildlife and plant species.
"Our extensive network of gas and electric infrastructure spans over 74,000 square miles and is home to wildlife and other important natural resources," said Steven Kline, vice president, corporate environmental and federal affairs at PG&E. "As we upgrade and maintain our gas and electric facilities to meet California's growing needs, protecting threatened and endangered species and their habitats is critical. PG&E's new Habitat Conservation Plan will protect more than 175 sensitive wildlife and plant species system wide, and is the latest example of how we are developing innovative solutions to ensure responsible stewardship of these resources while continuing to provide our customers with safe, reliable and clean energy."
The utility's new O&M HCP program is designed to ensure the long-term protection of sensitive species through a process that allows PG&E to access and maintain its facilities in a timely manner. Unlike most HCPs which govern habitat protection for future land development, PG&E's O&M HCP is the first to be activity-based, addressing protection for existing land uses. Other innovative aspects of the program include the wide range of sensitive species to be covered and the governance of many small-scale operational activities dispersed over a large geographic area. This approach improves PG&E's service to customers by avoiding schedule delays associated with acquiring individual, project-by-project permits for threatened and endangered species.
Developed in collaboration with federal and state natural resource agencies, the O&M HCP program also allows PG&E to more effectively partner with local stakeholders and environmental groups in support of habitat and species conservation efforts. As part of the program, PG&E is looking forward to partnering with local, state and federal conservation organizations to protect 15,000 acres of sensitive habitat.
PG&E's O&M HCP will first be rolled out to the San Joaquin Valley region in early 2008, the first in a series of six regions that cover PG&E's service area stretching from Eureka in the north to Bakersfield in the south. Additional regions include the Bay Area, Sacramento Valley, North Coast, Central Coast and Sierra Nevada. Recognizing the unique features of each region, PG&E is developing the plans to reflect the species, geography, and operational activities specific to each region. All six regions will roll up into one permit – PG&E's Operations and Maintenance HCP.
The San Joaquin Valley O&M HCP will cover almost all of the utility's routine operations, maintenance, and minor new construction activities that occur within the San Joaquin Valley for the next 30 years. It also establishes clear goals and measures for protecting, managing and monitoring 23 wildlife and 42 plant species, including the San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog, vernal pool fairy shrimp and western burrowing owl.
As one of California's largest landowners, PG&E is committed to protecting California's natural resources. In addition to PG&E's Habitat Conservation Plan, the utility has partnered with the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council to permanently protect 140,000 acres of watershed lands associated with the utility's hydroelectric system – one of the largest individual dedications of private lands to conservation. PG&E's Land Conservation Commitment protects a broad range of public beneficial uses including natural habitat of fish, wildlife and plants; preservation of open space; and public outdoor recreation, among others.