Power Knowledge Center
Balancing utility reliability with regulatory change.
CEC’s clients have relied on our multi-disciplined team’s expertise for more than 30 years. With this glossary, we hope to share more of that expertise and also help to enhance communications with our clients.
Access road design and route selection are focus areas from the onset of a project along with consideration of earthwork quantities to minimize construction costs and duration. Geotechnical investigations are performed by CEC when, among other things, site conditions warrant slope stability evaluations or require an assessment of historic mining operations, or when the planned use of the site.
CEC provides construction management services as an agency, as an owner’s representative, or through CEC-led Design/Build arrangements to deliver a turnkey solution.
CEC ecologists perform habitat assessments and flora and fauna surveys for environmental planning and impact studies. They also perform endangered species presence or absence surveys to develop protection and enhancement plans. CEC conducts baseline and post-restoration monitoring for ecosystem restoration and enhancement projects. Additionally, CEC monitors invasive plants, performs agronomic evaluations to restore fertility and gestation to highly disturbed sites, and designs phytoremediation systems for treating contaminated soils.
Aquatic ecologists, geomorphologists, wetland scientists, botanists, agronomists, and engineers are familiar with the complex nature of ecosystems and work together to create functional, self-sustaining stream and wetland systems.
CEC has extensive design experience and a proven track record of successfully obtaining local, state, and federal erosion and sedimentation control (E&S) permits and/or regulatory approvals and has a working knowledge of the various state and federal E&S and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations and requirements.
The task of improving flood control and risk management through structural and non-structural measures, as well as improving the water quality for our nation’s rivers and streams.
A medium to collect, manage, manipulate, analyze, and present geographic, characteristic, and performance data for the production of information-oriented solutions. CEC’s core GIS competencies include enterprise system development, base map creation, custom cartography and map production, data conversion and validation, internet mapping, needs assessment, satellite/aerial image interpretation, and GPS surveys. CEC also has prepared custom data management, illustration, and reporting programming to assist our clients with handling information related to permit-required sampling data and reporting, allowing clients to demonstrate compliance with applicable regulations.
CEC provides geotechnical engineering services to determine foundation and retaining wall design parameters, develop site grading requirements, design pavements, and investigate slope stability, mine subsidence, landslides, and foundation failures.
CEC prepares a formal report and supporting documentation presenting data forms, site photographs, methodology, and other information required for state and/or federal permitting, and typically coordinates and leads the on-site jurisdictional determination (JD) meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and appropriate state agencies to verify the limits of the delineation and discuss permitting strategies.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and subsequent revisions set into play the regulation of discharges to surface water. The NPDES permitting program was delegated to most states for enforcement, targeting local government and commercial, residential, and industrial clients. CEC stays abreast of the current regulatory directions and trends to help clients better manage resources and risk.
Environmental site assessments of properties identify environmental liabilities and help determine if past or adjacent land uses have resulted in environmental impacts. Assessments are designed to meet industry standards, such as ASTM and AAI, as well as client-specific and state-mandated standards when regulatory closure is the ultimate goal.
The legal right to pass through property owned by another party. CEC provides expertise to reduce the risk of ground movement, including landslides, on ROW for the oil & gas, power generation, and telecommunications industries.
Permitting for wetland and stream encroachments. Wetlands regulations significantly impact the overall feasibility, economics, and efficiency of new land development projects.
CEC uses a sequential approach to provide wetlands and waters (streams, ponds, etc.) identifications, delineations, and permitting. CEC also develops designs for approved and successful mitigation projects.
Comprehensive consulting and measurement services provided by CEC’s multidisciplinary team of air quality experts. These services help cost-effectively balance operational flexibility and regulatory compliance.
The U.S. EPA uses the NAAQS standards to classify all geographic areas of the U.S. (usually by county) as either Attainment Areas (areas that meet the NAAQS standards) or Non-Attainment Areas (areas that do not meet the NAAQS standards).
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) (both precursors/contributors to ozone)
Particulate Matter – PM10 and PM2.5
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
CEC’s sensible solutions for dam and impoundment projects, in which we provide a streamlined approach to engineering that accounts for management of risk, address regulatory obligations, protect the environment, and minimize bottom-line costs.
Coal-fired unit deactivation planning. CEC provides environmental investigation, mitigation, and demolition for projects ranging from small two-unit boiler houses up to very large multi-unit boiler houses with miscellaneous ancillary structures and equipment. CEC performs a phased project scope focused on safety and compliance and provides a usable and marketable asset upon completion of D&D activities.
The degree of care and caution required before making a decision; loosely, a financial and technical investigation to determine whether an investment in a property is sound.
Effluent limitations serve as the primary mechanism in NPDES permits for controlling discharges of pollutants to receiving waters.
EPCRA was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. It also requires industry to report on the storage, use, and release of hazardous substances to federal, state, and local governments.
Audits of corporate environmental health and safety programs, compliance with permit limits and state and federal regulations, and corporate policies and procedures. CEC’s audits are designed to help prepare and implement cost-effective solutions and improve systems for maintaining and tracking regulatory compliance.
A written report, compiled prior to a production decision, that examines the effects a proposed development will have on the natural surroundings.
CEC’s actions to determine the presence or absence of protected species, offer measures to provide mitigation solutions, work with regulators to resolve conflicts, and recommend a permitting strategy.
Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities.
187 toxic chemicals listed by the U.S. EPA that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects.
Scanning features within an environment using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment to produce a three-dimensional (3D) model. LiDAR utilizes a laser light and reflected light to measure distances. The equipment can be used on drones, vehicles, and standalone terrestrial equipment such as a tripod. Typically used for topographic surveys and as-builts.
Stationary sources are considered either major or minor for NSR based on the amounts of criteria pollutants they emit. Thresholds are established for each criteria pollutant for attainment & non-attainment areas. Sources exceeding thresholds are major sources; those not exceeding are minor sources.
The CAA requires the U.S. EPA to set NAAQS standards for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment.
Federal operating standards for new sources of air emissions.
Congress established the New Source Review (NSR) Permitting program as part of the 1977 Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments. NSR requires stationary sources of air pollution to get permits before construction starts.
Permitting requirements for new sources located in attainment areas.
Risk assessments are commonly performed as part of commercial and industrial real estate transactions, brownfields redevelopment projects, state voluntary clean-up projects, and federal CERCLA and RCRA programs.
Any building, structure, facility, or installation that emits or may emit a regulated pollutant under the Act [40 CFR §52.21(b)(5)].
A category of surveys that can include habitat assessments and flora and fauna surveys for environmental planning and impact studies; endangered species presence or absence surveys; and baseline and post-restoration monitoring for ecosystem restoration and enhancement projects.
Acid rain permit for the control of NOx and SO2 emissions from electric generating facilities.
Permit required to operate a major source of air emissions.
Used to conduct topographic surveys, optical gas imaging, vegetation analysis, and various types of inspections, as well as to capture aerial photography.
CEC’s services related to the management, recycling, reuse, and disposal of municipal, industrial, construction/demolition, hazardous, and gas exploration wastes, as well as coal combustion residuals. The private and public sectors rely on CEC for processing, treatment, or disposal facility projects. We develop designs for waste disposal facilities; prepare plans to extend the life of existing facilities; assist with permitting and regulatory compliance; provide construction support and construction quality assurance (CQA); perform Landfill Gas Operations & Maintenance (O&M) services; and design leachate and landfill gas management systems.
An area of expertise that CEC shares with clients at all phases of the water cycle. Our experience with regulatory authorities helps clients negotiate more appropriate permit conditions. CEC helps clients by developing stormwater compliance strategies, designing and implementing watershed restoration plans, managing municipal stormwater and sanitary collection systems, and determining appropriate wastewater treatment technologies.
Fatal damage to lung tissue of bats caused by sudden air pressure changes near moving wind turbine blades.
Birds usually fly relatively low. Most of the year, they stay under 500 feet. During migration, birds gain altitude. Many species fly at 2,000 to 5,000 feet or higher, using prevailing winds to assist them.
Panels that can collect sunlight from both sides.
Community Solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. This model for solar is being rapidly adopted nationwide. Community solar programs accept capital from and provides output credit and tax benefits to individual and other investors.
Techniques to acquire, preserve, create, enhance, restore, or manage habitat for endangered or threatened wildlife species.
Tangible remains of past human activity, which may include buildings, structures, pre-contact archaeological sites, historic or pre-contact objects or collections, rock inscriptions, earthworks, canals, or landscapes. These non-renewable resources may yield unique information about past society and environments, and provide answers for modern day social and conservation problems.
The wind speed at which a wind turbine starts generating electricity from turning. Cut-in speeds can be adjusted by the manufacturer to accommodate bird and bat migration timing. The cut-in speed is typically 7 to 9 mph.
At the cut-out wind speed, the turbine shuts down to avoid damage. The pitch controllers feather the blades to let the wind flow past them and the rotor hub is braked. The wind usually has to return to a much lower speed, called the cut-back-in speed, for a certain amount of time before the turbine will restart. The cut-out speed is generally around 55 mph. The cut-back-in speed is around 45 mph.
Electric generation units located within the electric distribution system at or near the end user and are parallel to the electric utility or stand-alone units. Typical DERs include photovoltaic (PV) systems, wind systems, and energy storage systems.
Energy storage systems store energy, typically for local use, through the use of batteries, thermal heat exchange, mechanical storage (e.g., gravity), pumped hydro, and stored hydrogen (conversion of electricity into hydrogen via electrolysis).
Planning documents required as part of an application for an incidental take permit. The documents describe the anticipated effects of the proposed taking, how those impacts will be minimized or mitigated, and how the HCP is to be funded.
An endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve, and protect buildings, objects, landscapes, or other artifacts of historical significance.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits the “take” of listed species through direct harm or habitat destruction. In the 1982 ESA amendments, Congress authorized the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (through the Secretary of the Interior) to issue permits for the “incidental take” of endangered and threatened wildlife species (See Section 10a(1)(B) of the ESA). Thus, permit holders can proceed with an activity that is legal in all other respects, but that results in the “incidental taking” of a listed species.
The agreement between a solar developer and the utility company.
Self-sufficient energy systems that serve a discrete geographic area (e.g., college campus, hospital complex, business center, or neighborhood). Microgrids incorporate one or more kinds of distributed energy resources (DERs) that produce power, such as solar panels, wind turbines, combined heat and power, and generators. Modern microgrids utilize energy storage systems.
A program offered under state law, or voluntarily by utility providers, that allows the photovoltaic system (PV) owner to sell solar-derived electricity they are not using back into the grid.
Utilizing distributed energy resources (DERs) and microgrids to defer or replace the installation of more traditional “wires and poles” infrastructure. Utilizing DERs at the local level provides flexibility and resilience that bypass the need for costly infrastructure improvements. NWA examples include energy efficiency, demand response, and solar-plus-storage microgrids.
Offshore wind power or offshore wind energy is the use of wind farms constructed in bodies of water, usually in the ocean, to harvest wind energy to generate electricity.
The point where the generating facility’s local electric power system connects to the utility’s electric system, such as the system’s meter. This can also be the location of the equipment designated to interrupt, separate, or disconnect the connection between the generating facility and the utility.
Often refers to a long-term electricity supply agreement between two parties, usually between a power producer and a customer (an electricity consumer or trader). The PPA defines the conditions of the agreement, such as the amount of electricity to be supplied, negotiated prices, accounting, and penalties for non-compliance. Since it is a bilateral agreement, a PPA can take many forms and is usually tailored to the specific application. Electricity can be supplied physically or on a balancing sheet. PPAs can be used to reduce market price risks, which is why they are frequently implemented by large electricity consumers to help reduce investment costs associated with planning or operating renewable energy plants.
Credits of a certain dollar amount per megawatt-hour of electricity generated from photovoltaic (PV) systems in practicing state markets. SREC programs follow the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires electricity providers to secure a portion of their electricity from solar generators. The value of an SREC is determined by the market, subject to supply and demand constraints. SRECs can be sold to electricity suppliers needing to meet their solar RPS requirement. The market is typically capped by a fine or solar alternative compliance payment (SACP) paid by any electricity suppliers for every SREC that falls short of the requirement.
The length between solar panel rows that provides a stormwater disconnect flow length to support sheet flow velocity reduction. Most states allow for consideration of the disconnection length during the photovoltaic (PV) system stormwater permitting phase, which allows for elimination of, or reduction of, stormwater structural best management practices (BMPs)
Distribution lines go from a substation to an end user, such as a residance, at low voltage.
A substation is the intermediate function between generation, transmission, and distribution that transforms voltage levels.
Transmission lines go from power plants to substations at high voltage.