Definitions and Acronyms


Pertaining to adjudication: the legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved.

Administrative Record

All materials that have been entered into the docket (see below) of the proceeding. The Administrative Record includes, but is not limited to, the Hearing Record (see below).


The person or entity seeking approval to construct and operate a power plant or transmission line that falls within the Energy Commission's jurisdiction.

Application For Certification (AFC)

Document filed by applicant requesting certification to construct a power plant.


A summary of a party's evidence and legal arguments, submitted in writing and stating how the evidence supports a party's position and explains why the Commission should not adopt the other parties' position(s).

Business Meeting

Refers to the regularly scheduled, bi-weekly, California Energy Commission meetings of five commissioners, appointed by the Governor, to make rulings and conduct the business of the Energy Commission in an open, public process.

California Code of Regulations (CCR)

A compilation of regulations adopted by state agencies. The regulations pertaining to siting are contained in Title 20.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

CEQA (commencing with Section 2100 of the Public Resources Code) is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. For AFCs, the Energy Commission's review process has been deemed functionally equivalent to CEQA by the Secretary of Resources. The Commission Staff's Final Staff Assessment and Commission Decision take the place of an Environmental Impact Report normally required by CEQA.

Carbon capture and sequestration

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas. It is a natural component of air that helps reflect the Earth's infrared radiation back to the surface, causing heat to be retained, as in a greenhouse. Without CO2 the planet would be inhospitable. However, because CO2 is a primary product of combustion, the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 has been on the rise. Carbon capture and sequestration is an approach to mitigate climate change by capturing, or collecting, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and storing them instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.


The certification or approval of the California Energy Commission that must be obtained to construct thermal power facilities of 50 megawatts or more in California.

Combined Cycle

Power plant uses a high technology natural gas turbine to generate electricity, but also uses the exhaust heat from the natural gas turbine to create steam that powers a steam turbine to generate more electricity.


Any oral or written statement made by any person, not under oath, in any proceeding before the commission. Whereas,Testimony means any oral or written statement offered by any party, under oath in any proceeding before the commission.

Comment Periods

Lengths of time established to allow written comments to be submitted to the commission on specific documents prepared for a proposed siting project.


"Commission" means the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission.

Commission Adoption Order

Document providing the Commission ruling and adopting a proposed decision.


Two commissioners appointed by the Energy Commission (pursuant to Title 20 Section 1204 of these regulations) to preside over an individual siting case.

Committee Conference on Presiding Member's Proposed Decision (PMPD)

Approximately 30 days after the PMPD is issued, a meeting is held to provide oral comments, in addition to the opportunity to submit written comments.

Committee Scheduling Order (Scheduling Order)

Primarily referencing siting cases, a committee (of commissioners) assigned to preside over a power plant licensing proposal issues a document that contains a list of events that must occur to complete the certification process. This Committee Schedule provides dates for the period leading up to the Prehearing Conference.

Compliance Plan and Verification

General compliance conditions explaining the duties and responsibilities of the staff, the licensee, delegated agencies, and others are set forth as part of the final Energy Commission decision. Monitoring methods and verification provisions are also set forth intended to verify compliance with the actual conditions of certification. More information at Title 20 Section 1770.

Conditions of Certification

Conditions or mitigations measures included in the certificate approving a siting case.

Data Adequacy (DA)

The five-member state Energy Commission acceptance of an Application for Certification (AFC) as complete, meeting all the requirements listed in Title 20, section 1704, and Division 2, Chapter 5, Appendix B of the California Code of Regulations.

Prior to the business meeting decision on data adequacy, Application for Certification (AFC), once filed, are reviewed by Energy Commission staff. Staff subsequently provides a determination of adequacy to the Executive Director and the Executive Director makes the DA recommendation to the Commission.

Data Request

Process used to obtain information from another party that is reasonably available and relevant to the proceeding. In the siting process, this may be additional material needed to make a data adequacy determination.

Decision (on the Application for Certification)

The Commission ruling on AFCs, based upon the evidentiary record of the proceedings and consideration of the comments received.

If approved, it includes conditions of certification, compliance verifications and monitoring program, as well as specific requirements which ensure that the proposed facility will be designed, sited, and operated in a manner to protect environmental quality, to assure public health and safety, and to operate in a safe and reliable manner.

Pursuant to Title 20 California Code of Regulations Section 1755, the notice of the final decision is filed with the Secretary of the Resources Agency.

Declaration of Service

A sworn statement attesting that a document was properly served (delivered) to the appropriate parties. The signed original declaration must accompany the original paper filed with the Docket Unit of the Energy Commission and list the parties served.

Discovery and Analysis Phase

This is a period where the Energy Commission staff, agencies and intervenors begin gathering information. Staff workshops may be held during this period.


The Docket Unit of the Energy Commission. The Commission Docket has the responsibility of receiving, protecting, maintaining, retrieving, distributing and archiving all original, duplicate and confidential materials which are the official records for all energy policy, rulemaking, regulatory and administrative proceedings held by the Commission.

Docket Number

The Docket number represents the coding system used to identify siting and other proceedings held before the Commission. The Docket number assigned by the Docket staff consists of the year initiated, the proceeding acronym, and the consecutive proceeding number within each year (i.e., for siting cases, YY-AFC-NN).

Environmental Impact Report

An information document, prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) providing public agencies and the public in general with detailed information about the effect which a proposed project is likely to have on the environment; to list ways in which the significant effects of such a prject might be minimized; and to indicate alternatives to such a project.

Environmental Impact Statement

A document required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for federal government agency actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." A tool for decision making, an EIS describes the positive and negative environmental effects of proposed agency action, citing alternative actions, as well.


The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admitted as testimony in a court of law. Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either a) presumed to be true, or b) were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth.

Evidentiary Hearing

A meeting to establish the factual record necessary to reach a decision in the case. The committee takes written, oral, and documentary testimony and exhibits from the parties. More information: Title 20 Section 1748.

Evidentiary Hearing Order (Hearing Order)

Committee notice to establish procedures, identify issues, and set schedules for adjudicatory or nonadjudicatory hearings on the notice or application.

Ex parte

"Off the record" communications. To assure fairness and impartiality to all parties in judicial-type proceedings, the California Administrative Procedures Act and the Energy Commission regulations prohibit substantive communications with decision-makers.

Expert Witness

A person is qualified as an expert if he has special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education sufficient to qualify him /her as an expert on the subject to which his/her testimony relates. To qualify the expert witness, a biography including the educational background, qualifying experience, and a list of relevant circulated writings should be filed and served along with the prepared testimony.

Feed-in Tariff

A Feed-in Tariff (FiT) is an incentive arrangement to encourage the adoption of renewable energy through government legislation.


Submission of any signed, original document (and proper number of copies and attachments) to the Energy Commission e-filing system or Docket Unit: Dockets Unit, California Energy Commission, 1516 Ninth Street, MS 4, Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 654-5076; E-mail:

Final Staff Assessment (FSA)

Finalized report that summarizes the project proposal and the environmental setting and the environmental effects of the applicant's siting proposal along with any necessary mitigation.


The determination of a factual question vital (contributing) to a decision in a case by the trier of fact (jury or judge sitting without a jury) after a trial of a lawsuit, often referred to as findings of fact. A finding of fact is distinguished from a conclusion of law which is determined by the judge as the sole legal expert. Findings of fact and conclusions of law need not be made if waived or not requested by the trial attorneys, leaving just the bare judgment in the case.

Health Risk Assessment (HRA)

Defined in Health & Safety Code 44306, it means a detailed comprehensive analysis prepared pursuant to HSC 44361 to evaluate and predict the dispersion of hazardous substances in the environment and the potential for exposure of human populations and to assess and qualify both the individual and population wide health risks associated with those levels of exposure.


Hearings are formal proceedings, conducted by a Hearing Officer. Siting cases include the appointed committee and can be "informational" hearings or "evidentiary" hearings.

Hearing Officer

An Energy Commission attorney designated (pursuant to Title 20 Section 1205) to assist a committee in conducting the siting proceeding.

Hearing Order (Evidentiary Hearing Order)

Committee notice to establish procedures, identify issues, and set schedules for adjudicatory or nonadjudicatory hearings on the notice or application.

Hearing Record

The materials that the committee or commission accepts at a hearing; includes written and oral testimony, supporting evidence or exhibits, public comment, public agency comment, etc.

Impact Area

The area which is potentially affected by the construction, modification, or operation of a proposed power plant and related facilities.

Informational Hearing

At the Energy Commission this most typically refers to the first public meeting held in power plant licensing cases. The meeting includes presentations by the Energy Commission explaining the energy facility licensing process and ways to become an effective public participant, and a presentation by the applicant describing the proposal. It is usually coupled with a site visit of the proposed project.


Any person who has been granted leave to intervene (become a party) by the presiding member in a siting proceeding. Any person may file a petition to intervene in the siting proceeding. All parties have the same rights and duties (Title 20 Section 1712).

Note the deadline for submitting a Petition to Intervene (Cal. Code Regs., tit 20, § 1207) must be filed after a proposed project has been deemed adequate and no later than the Prehearing Conference of 30 days prior to the first hearing held, whichever is earlier.

Issue Identification Report

At the Energy Commission, this document serves as a preliminary scoping document that identifies potential issues that Energy Commission staff believes will require careful attention and consideration. Energy Commission staff typically presents the issues report, making it available to the public, at the Informational Hearing and Site Visit .

Lead Agency

As defined in the California Environmental Quality Act is the public agency which has principal responsibility for carrying out or approving a project that may have a significant effect on the environment. The Energy Commission is the lead agency for siting power plants with a net generating capacity of 50 megawatts or larger.

List Server

Electronic email notification allowing for widespread distribution of information to many Internet users. It is similar to a traditional mailing list — a list of names and addresses — as might be kept by an organization for sending automated notifications to those that have indicated a desire to receive such information by signing up and providing their email addresses.


Laws, ordinances, regulations and standards.

Megawatt (MW)

One million watts. One megawatt will provide electricity for approximately 1,000 homes.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Federal law (42 USC 4342) establishing a national policy for considering the environmental impacts of proposed Federal actions on the environment and for involving the public in the decision making process.

Open Meetings Act

References the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (Government Code sections 11120-11132) which defines specific rules to govern the conduct of government meetings primarily in an effort to increase the ease with which members of the public may participate; generally requiring public notice of meetings, preparation of agendas, acceptance of public testimony and conducting meetings in public (unless specifically authorized by the Act to meet in closed session).

Order Instituting Investigation (OII)

Exploration initiated by the Commission to examine specific issues that may lead to new or changed legislation, programs, enforcement, or policies.

Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR)

A Commission initiated proceeding to establish new rules.


The applicant, the staff of the commission, and any intervenor.

Petition to Intervene

A formal petition to become an intervener in a siting case pursuant to Title 20 Section 1207. The petition is posted on the Energy Commission website. Any person may petition to intervene. The committee may grant or deny the petition. Petitions must be filed after a proposed project has been deemed adequate and no later than the Prehearing Conference of 30 days prior to the first hearing held, whichever is earlier.

Pre-Hearing Conference

A meeting held by the committee with all parties to establish procedures, identify issues and set schedules for adjudicatory or nonadjudicatory hearings on the notice or application.

Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA)

Staff's preliminary report which summarizes their analysis of the proposed project.

Presiding Member

A Commissioner designated to lead a committee.

Presiding Member's Proposed Decision (PMPD)

Contains a description of the significant adverse environmental impacts of the proposal, and a discussion of the merits of project alternatives and mitigation measures proposed to avoid or lessen each significant impact.

Project Manager (PM)

Energy Commission staff assigned to the siting case with the overall responsibility for directing staff activities, organizing workshops and preparing the PSA and FSA.

Proof of Service (POS)

A list of the formal parties to a proceeding. Each siting case or other proceeding has a distinct Proof of Service list, which is kept current throughout the process. This list is used to identify the "parties". When a party to a proceeding submits any material to the proceeding docket, the submission packet must include a current Proof of Service list and a signed Declaration of Service when one or more parties do not receive electronic copies of filings.

Public Adviser

An attorney appointed by the Governor to serve as adviser to the public and to the commission to ensure that full and adequate participation by members of the public is secured in the commission's proceedings.

Public Records Act

References the California law (Govt. Code § 6250 - 6276.48) designed to give the public access to information in possession of public agencies.

Scheduling Order (Committee Scheduling Order)

Primarily referencing siting cases, a committee (of commissioners) assigned to preside over a power plant licensing proposal issues a document that contains a list of events that must occur to complete the certification process. This Committee Schedule provides dates for the period leading up to the Prehearing Conference.

Siting Process

The chain of events leading to a decision by the five-member commission to approve or disapprove construction of a power facility.


An independent party to a siting case, includes Energy Commission technical staff, project manager and the staff attorney. (Note that the Public Adviser and Hearing Officer are also attorneys, but not considered "staff," as their participation in siting cases is impartial.)


The word "stakeholder" is commonly used to mean a person or organization that has a legitimate interest in a project or proceeding. That is, everyone with an interest (or "stake"). Stakeholders are generally characterized as either "intervenors" (see definition above) or "commentors". Only intervenors have the rights of "parties" (see definition above).

Statement of Fact

An assertion of objective facts within the knowledge of the person making the assertion and with no inclusion of their opinion.


Any oral or written statement offered by any party, under oath in any proceeding before the commission. Whereas,Comment means any oral or written statement made by any person, not under oath, in any proceeding before the commission.

Thermal energy

A form of energy that manifests itself as an increase of temperature. Thus, power plant projects that are subject to Energy Commission jurisdiction have to do with "heat", as opposed to hydro-power or wind-power.

Title 20

Reference to the California Code of Regulations, Title 20 - Public Utilities and Energy, which provides the regulations that govern the California Energy Commission (Division 2 - State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission).

Title 24

Reference to the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, also known as the California Building Standards Code, contains the regulations that govern the design and construction of buildings, associated facilities and equipment. It applies to all buildings throughout the State of California.

Warren-Alquist Act (WAA)

The Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Act created the Energy Commission in 1974. The statutes are found in the Public Resources Code beginning at 25000.


Any person who offers testimony in any proceeding before the commission.


An informal meeting of interested parties to facilitate the full and open exchange of information and the discussion and informal resolution of issues in a public forum. Commissioners do not attend workshops.