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ReportontheStepUpTransformerFailureandFireatPalomarUnit1December2010

August10,2011BusinessMeetingDiscussionItem

GeoffLesh,P.E.,EngineeringOffice
Siting,TransmissionandEnvironmentalProtectionDivision

ExecutiveSummary
OnDecember22,2010,themainstepuptransformeratPalomarPowerEnergyCenterUnit1
experiencedaninternalelectricalshortandcaughtfire.Theunitautomaticallyshutdownand
plantpersonnelcalledtheEscondidoFireDepartment.TheEscondidoFireDepartment
coordinatedamultiagencyresponsetothefire,andthenotificationofthepublicwithinamile
oftheunitofthefireandresultingsmoke.Thetransformerwasatotalloss,butthefiredidnot
spreadonsiteanddidnotcauseanyinjuriestotheworkers,respondersortothepublic.The
experienceofthisparticulareventalsotendstoconfirmthattherisktopublicsafetyfromsuch
eventsisnotlikelytobesignificantbecausetheyarerare,thefactthatnoPCBsarepresentin
theoilthatmightburn,andtherequiredengineeringmeasuresareinplacetopreventthefire
fromspreading.

Thesummaryofthefireandtheresponsearebasedontheinformationavailabletodate.Staff
willcontinuetoworkwiththeprojectownerandlocalagenciestodeterminetheefficacyof
projectdesignandproceduresinminimizingfirerisk.Itisstaffsrecommendationthatno
additionalmitigationberequiredforthePalomarfacilityorfornewfacilitiestobepermittedby
theEnergyCommissioninthefuture,exceptincaseswithparticularsitespecificcircumstances.
StaffwillcontinuetomonitortheoutcomesofanyfuturetransformerfiresatbothEnergy
Commissionprojectsandotherpowerplantstoensurethatstaffsconclusionsremainvalid.
Oneconcernthatstillremainsistheconfusionoverwhethertheprojectownerwasrequiredto
reportthefiretotheEnergyCommissioninatimelymanner.Asaresultofthisconcernstaff
willaddanewgeneralconditionofcertificationthatclearlyrequiresfutureEnergyCommission
permittedfacilities,orexistingprojectsthatarebeingamended,toreportanyfireor
emergencyeventstotheEnergyCommissionwithintwohours,andtoprovideadetailed
incidentreportwithinamonthoftheevent.

DescriptionoftheProject
ThePalomarEnergyCenterconsistsofatwounitnaturalgasfiredcombinedcyclepowerplant
withanominalelectricaloutputof546megawatts.ItisownedbySanDiegoGasandElectric
Company(SDG&E).ItwaspermittedbytheEnergyCommissioninAugust2003andhasbeenin
commercialoperationsincethesummerof2004.Theprojectlocationisa20acresitewithina
186acreindustrialparkintheCityofEscondido,SanDiegoCounty,California.Theprojectsite
isabout600feetsouthwestoftheintersectionofAutoParkWayandEnterpriseStreet,and
aboutthreequartersofamilewestofInterstate15andsouthofStateHighway78.

Theprojectincludestwonaturalgasfiredcombustionturbinegenerators,twoheatrecovery
steamgenerators,acommonsteamturbinegeneratorandwetcoolingtower,andassociated
auxiliarysystemsandequipment.Eachunitcanoperateindependently.Theprojectincludesa

Pg.1
230kVswitchyardconnectingwithanSDG&Eelectrictransmissionlinelocatedimmediately
adjacenttotheprojectsite.

ThedesignoffireprotectionsystemsatgasfiredpowerplantsarespecifiedbyNationalFire
ProtectionAssociation(NFPA)Standard850:RecommendedPracticeforFireProtectionfor
ElectricGeneratingPlantsandHighVoltageDirectCurrentConverterStations.Fireprotection
featuresassociatedwithgeneratorstepuptransformersincludeafireresistantsecondary
containmentcatchmentbasinwithadequatecapacitytocaptureanyinsulatingoilthatmay
leakandanexplosion/firewalltoprotectnearbyequipmentandpreventescalationofthefire
tootherpartsofthepowerplant.Powerplantsalsohaveanassortmentoffirehoses,fire
pumps,reservefirewatersupply,hydrants,extinguishers,etc.Itisstandardpracticeforplant
personneltoattempttoextinguishonlyincipientfires,andleavelargerfiressuchasthisoneto
thelocalfiredepartment.

AtPalomarEnergyCenter,thetransformerthatfailedcontained11,120gallonsofmineraloilas
insulatingandheattransferfluid.Bylaw,themineraloildoesnotcontainanypolychlorinated
biphenylchemicals(PCBs).A24foottallconcretefirewallseparatedthe17foottall
transformerandthe30footx30footconcretecatchmentbasinfromnearbyequipmenton
twosides.Thetransformerbasinwasopenontheothertwosides,allowingaccessfromanon
siteserviceroadtothetransformerandcatchmentbasin.Acrosstheserviceroad,potential
impactsfromthefirewerelimitedbyalargeearthenbermononesideandthelargeexpanse
oftheswitchyardontheadjacentopenside.

DescriptionoftheTransformerFailureandSubsequentFire
OnDecember22,2010(day1)at12:08pm,duringarainstorm,ageneratorcoremonitoralarm
triggered,indicatingthatanirregularcurrentwasdetectedbytheautomatedprotection
systeminonephaseofthethreephasegeneratorstepuptransformer(GSU)oftheUnit1
combustionturbine.Withinthreecyclesofgridvoltage(about50thousandthsofasecond),
automatedprotectivecircuitbreakerstripped,isolatingthetransformerfromthegenerator
andfromtheswitchyard(andtheelectricalgrid).

Ateardowninspectionofthetransformerconductedafterthefirerevealedthataninternal
shortcircuitarchadoccurredresultinginasignificantreleaseofenergyintotheinsulatingoil.
Theresultantinternalpressureburstcausedanelectricalbushingwherecurrententersthe
transformertoruptureandthetransformercasetoopenataseam,startingafireinsidethe
transformer.Burningoilleakedfromasmallopeningintheupperportionofthetransformer.
Theburningoilcollectedwithinthecatchmentbasin,andcontinuedtoburnproducinga
columnofblacksmoke.Thefirewasextinguishedbythefiredepartment26hourslater.While
thefailureandfirewascatastrophictothetransformer(i.e.,itwasatotalloss),thefiredidnot
spreadtoanyotherpartsofthepowerplantorcausedamagebeyondthetransformer.

DescriptionofEmergencyResponse
Afterconfirmingthetransformerfire,plantpersonnelcontactedtheCityofEscondidoFire
Departmentat12:10pmtorequestassistance.EnginecompaniesfromEscondidoFire
Departmentarrivedat12:18pm.Becausethefirewascontainedandthesmokewas
Pg.2
consideredtobeoflowtoxicity,theFireDepartmentsinitialdecisionwastoletthefire
continuetoburn,expectingittobediminishedandextinguishablewithintwotothreehours.
AssistancewasrequestedfromtheSanDiegoFireDepartmentHazardousIncidentResponse
Team(HIRT)toconductanassessmentofthepotentialtoxicityofburningmaterialandaSan
DiegoCountyEnvironmentalHealth(AirQuality)ResponseUnittomonitorambientairquality.

Afterarrivingonscene,thefiredepartmentsfireteamfirstverifiedthatelectricalcomponents
withinthevicinityofthefireandwithinpotentialreachoffirewaterandtheimmediatesmoke
plumewerepoweredoff.Anonsiteincidentcommandstructurewassetup,anddutieswere
assignedtorespondingpersonnel.Thestagingareaforemergencyresponsevehicleswason
CitracadoParkwayneartheplantentrance,causingthetemporaryclosureofCitracado
Parkway.

Becausethewindwasblowingtowardstheeast,theIncidentCommandermetwiththeCityof
EscondidosPoliceDepartmentPressInformationOfficertorequestareverse911callto
addresspublicconcernaboutthesmoke.Afterobtainingapprovalfromtheairpollutioncontrol
district(whowereonsite),ashelterinplacereverse911callwasplacedatapproximately
1:00pmtoresidentsandbusinesseswithinamileradius(inalldirections)ofthefacilityto
informthemthatthefiredepartmentwasworkingtoextinguishatransformerfireatthe
SDG&EPalomarEnergyPlant,thatthefirewascontainedandundercontrol,butthatthere
mightbeheavysmokeintheareaforthenexttwohours,thatpeopleshouldshelterinplace,
remaininginsidetheirplaceofworkorresidenceuntilthesmokedissipated,andthatthere
wouldbeasecondmessagewhenitwasdeemedsafetogooutside.Evenshorttermexposure
toairborneparticulates(i.e.smoke)cantriggerreactionsinsomepeople.Localnewscoverage
teamswerealsoinformedofthesituation,aswasthelocal211SanDiegopublic
informationphoneservice.

Thefireteamthenevaluatedpossibleplansforextinguishingthefire,whilethehazmatand
environmentalhealthunitsevaluatedchemicalandairqualityhazards.Aconcernwasthatthe
useoffirewaterintherainmightspreadthefirebecauseburningoilscanfloatontopofthe
firewaterasitaccumulatesinthecatchmentbasinandsubsequentlyspillsover,carryingthe
firetootherpartsofthesite.

Theinitialdecisionofthefiredepartmenthadbeentoletthefirecontinuetoburn,untilit
diminishedinsize.TheprimaryrecommendationfromHIRTwastoletthemineraloilburn,but
theyagreedthatanattemptatsuppressionwasanoption.Itwasnotknownhowmuchoil
remainedinthetransformer,orhowlongitwouldtaketoburnitselfout.Ameetingwas
convenedbetweenHIRT,CountyHealth,SDG&E,andtheEscondidoFireDepartmentandaplan
developedtoattempttosuppressthefireusingClassB(designedforflammableliquidfires)
foam.Acallwasplacedat3:35pmtorequesttheassistanceoftheCampPendletonMarine
CorpsAirStationCrashFireTeamsfoamtanker.Foamismoreeffectiveonoilfiresasit
smothersthefirewithalowervolumeoffirewater,butitcancreateslippinghazards.

TheUnit2combustionturbinegeneratorhadcontinuedtooperatenormallyduringthefire.In
supportoftheplantoattempttoextinguishthefire,Unit2wasremovedfromserviceat
Pg.3
3:41pm(vianormalshutdown)inresponsetosafetyconcernsthatwouldbeposedbyhavinga
portionofthesitestillenergizedwhileemergencyfirecrewsandequipmentwereoperating
onsite.

Afollowupreverse911callwasplacedtotheearlierrecipients(again,withinamileradiusof
thesite)at4:36pmadvisingthemthatalthoughthetransformerfirewasstillcontained,itwas
therecommendationoftheEscondidoPoliceandFireDepartmentsthatresidentsandworkers
intheimmediateareashouldremainindoorsuntilfurthernotice,thathowever,peoplecould
choosetoleave,thatemergencycrewswereworkingdiligentlytoneutralizetheincident,and
thatanothermessagewouldbeforthcomingoncethesituationhadbeenstabilized.

At5:05pm,theCampPendletonfoamtankerandcrewarrived.Thefoamteamwasbriefed,a
planningmeetingheldtodevelopthefireattackplan,andasafetybriefingheldforresponders.

At7:30pm,foamapplicationtothefirewasstarted.Foamapplicationwascalledoffafter15
minutesofsustainedattackthatwasunsuccessfulinknockingdownthefire.Thefirechiefs
explanationfortheineffectivenessofthefoamwasthattherewastoomuchheatemanating
fromthefireforthefoamtoremainintactlongenoughtosmotherthefire.Aparticular
complicationinextinguishinglargeoilinsulatedutilitytransformerfiresisthattherecanbe
burningoilbothinsidethetransformerafterthearchascausedacaserupture,andburningoil
inthecatchmentbasinsurroundingthetransformer.Bothfiresmustbeextinguished,firstthe
oneinthecatchmentbasin,thentheoneinsidethetransformermustbeextinguishedthrough
thelimitedaccessprovidedbytheholeopenedinthecase.Inthiscase,itwasreportedthatthe
leakingsurfacewasfacinganadjacenttransformercomponent,furtherlimitingaccessibility.As
theburningoilcontainednoPCBs,andairqualitymeasurementsdetectednovolatileorganic
compoundsinthelocalair,thedecisionwasmadeagaintoletthefirecontinueburninguntilit
diminishedinsize.Therespondingairqualityunitdidnothavemobileparticulatesensors,so
particulatelevelsinthesurroundingairwerenotmeasuredduringtheincident.

Emergencycrewsremainedonsitethroughoutthenighttomonitorthefireandtocontinueair
qualitymonitoring.Duringthenightthewinddied,causingthesmokeplumetorisestraightup.
Alsoduringthenight,thefirereducedinintensityastheamountofburningoildiminished.
Nextmorning,December23(day2),thewindreversedandpickedup,soanotherreverse911
callwasplacedat7:42am,providinganupdatetoresidentswithinamileradiusofthepower
plantthattheyshouldremainclearoftheareaorstayindoorsuntilthesmokehaddissipated;
thatwindshiftswereexpectedthroughoutthedaythatcouldcausethesmoketospread
throughoutthearea;andthattherewasnoestimateyetforwhenthefirewouldbe
extinguished.

Theairdistrictstaffvisitedahospitalconstructionsiteabout1,000feettothenorthwestonthe
morningofthe23rdtoalerttheworkerstothe(obvious)driftingsmokeandmeasureambient
airquality.Airqualitytestsdidnotdetectanyvolatileorganicgasesandthehospital
constructionworkersdidnotstopwork.

Pg.4
Becausethefirewasnowreducedinintensity,plansweremadetoattempttoextinguishthe
firewithfoamonceagain.Firesuppressionoperationsstartedat2:05pm.Thefireinthe
catchmentbasinwasoutby2:12pm,andthefireinsidethetransformerwasoutby2:18pmon
December23.Thefiredepartmentexplainedthattheyweresuccessfulonthesecondattempt
becausethefirewasnowsmallerwithlessheatbeingproducedsothatthefoamwasableto
holdtogetherandfinallysmotherthefire.At3:16pmareverse911callwasplacedtoall
recipientsoftheearlierreverse911callsinformingthemthatthefirewasnowextinguished,
thatitwasnolongernecessarytoremainindoors,andthattheycouldnowresumenormal
activities.

AchronologyofmajoreventsintheresponsetothefireisshowninAppendixA.AppendixB
containsphotographsoftheburningtransformertakenonday1andday2,showingthefire,
catchmentbasin,andthefirewallseparatingthetransformerfromadjacentequipment.
AppendixCisanaerialphotographshowingthelocationwithinthepowerplantofthe
transformerthatburned.AppendixDisamapshowingthelocationsofrecipientsofthefour
reverse911calls.Thesame1mileradiuswasusedforallfourcalls.

ImpactstoWorkers,thePublicandAppurtenantFacilities
Therewerenoinjuriesduetothefiretoanypowerplantemployeesoremergencyresponders
duringtheincident.Oneresponderwastakentothehospital,butthecausewasnotrelatedto
thefire.Therewerenoreportsofinjuriestomembersofthepublic.Noneofthereverse911
callsoccurredafterhours(after8pmandbefore6am).Airqualitymeasurementstakenbythe
CountyEnvironmentalHealthrespondersindicatedthatnomeasureablevolatileorganic
compoundsweredetectableintheambientairatandaroundthefacilityandthattherewasno
immediatehealthconcern.Therewas,however,aparticulatecontainingsmokeplume.Ofthe
11,120gallonsofmineraloilinthetransformer,6,932gallonswererecoveredafterthefire.As
nooilleakedintotheenvironment,itisestimatedthat4,188gallonsburned.

SourcingandreplacingthedamagedtransformerandappurtenantequipmentrequiredSDG&E
tokeeptheUnit1combustionturbineoutofserviceuntilMarch24,2011whenitwasreturned
tofullservice.Unit2wasreturnedtoservicethreedaysafterextinguishment,onDecember26,
2010.UntilUnit1wasabletostartupagain,thepowerplantwasabletooperateat
approximatelyhalfofitsnormalpowercapacity.

RecommendationsofResponders
Afterthefire,staffinvestigatedtheincidentsiteandvieweddamagedequipment.Staffalso
interviewedthefirstrespondingfirechiefandincidentcommander,BattalionChiefTengerof
theEscondidoFireDepartment;SectionLeadBartheloftheCampPendletonCrashFireTeam
whorespondedwiththefirefightingfoamtanker;NickVent,SupervisingEnvironmentalHealth
specialistforSanDiegoCounty;andMarthaEllis,CommunicationsManagerfortheCityof
EscondidoPoliceDepartment.Allrespondedthattheincidentresponsehadgonesmoothly,
andthatthepowerplantwaspreparedwiththeexpectedemergencyplans.Noneofthe
intervieweeshadrecommendationsforchangesthatneedtobemadetoplanningor
preparednessforsimilarpotentialemergenciesinthefuture.

Pg.5
Thereviewofeventsinthisparticulartransformerfailureindicatesthattheinstalledfire
mitigationmeasures(firewallsandcatchmentbasin)performedasexpectedandthatthefire
neitherspreadtootherpartsofthefacilitynorresultedinsignificantpublicsafetyimpacts.It
furtherappearsthattheemergencyresponseoflocalagencieswasfastandwellcoordinated.
Thesmoke,thedurationoftheevent,andnumberofemergencyvehiclesstagingonthe
adjacentCitracadoParkway,causingitstemporaryclosure,mayhavefosteredaperceptionthat
theeventproducedmoresignificantimpactsonthesurroundingsthanitactuallydid.

FeasibilityandJustificationforRequiringAdditionalMitigationMeasures
Staffsinvestigationofthisincidentfocusedonboththeelectricalfailureofthetransformer,
theresultingfire,andtheresponsetothefire.Transformerssuchastheonewhichfailedare
mostoftendesignedandbuilttoacustomersspecificrequirements.Assuch,costscan
approach$5milliondollarsandleadtimescanrangeuptoayearormore.Atransformer
failureisasignificantimpacttoapowerplantowner,involvingthecostofthereplacement
transformer,andthelossofsalesofelectricalpowerthroughthattransformeranditsturbine
generationtrainuntilnewpartshavebeensourced,installed,andcommissioned.Spurredby
thecriticaldependenceofpowerplantsontransformerreliability,thereareconsiderable
ongoingindustrysupportedacademicresearchandindustrialassociationefforts(e.g.
specifications,standards,guidelines,bestpractices,etc.)tocosteffectivelyimprove
transformersafetyandreliabilitywhilemaintainingefficientoperation.

Publishedstudiesindicatethatlargetransformerfailureswithsubsequentfiressuchas
occurredatPalomarPowerPlantarelowprobabilityevents.Thisincidentisthefirstknownofa
transformerfireatapowerplantpermittedbytheEnergyCommission.Itwasalsothefirst
experienceofalargeutilitytransformerfirefortherespondersinterviewed.Thatsaid,afurther
reductionintheprobabilityofeithertheinitialelectricalfailure,orsecond,theconsequences
oftheevent,i.e.,subsequentlossofcontainmentandburningofinsulatingoilwouldreduce
theriskspresentedbypotentialtransformerfailuresatpowerplants.Lastly,anysystemthat
couldensurereliablerapidsuppressionofanincipientfirewouldalsoreducetheriskof
potentialfirerelatedconsequencesresultingfromtransformerfailure.

Staffevaluatedseveralpotentialmethodsofaccomplishingtheseends.Forinstance,the
probabilityofinitialelectricalfailuremightbereducedbyrequiringtheuseofoversized
transformerssothattheyalwaysoperatebelowtheirdesignedvoltageandcurrenthandling
capacity.Users,includingPalomar,testtheinsulatingoilforcertaingasesthatcanpredictonset
ofinsulationbreakdownandimminentfailure.Palomarwasintheprocessofinstallinga
continuousmonitoringsystemtoreplacetheannualorsemiannualoilgrabsamplemethod.
Thisdoesnotpreventfailure,butcanhelpuserspotentiallypredictfailuresandorderand
replacepartspriortoacatastrophicfailure.

Reducingtheprobabilityoftransformercaserupturewithsubsequentlossofoilmightbe
accomplishedbyinstallingarapidactingpressureventingorrupturedisksystemthatwould
handlethepressureburstthatresultsfromtheinitialelectricalfailure.Suchasystemwould
alsoneedtoinstantaneouslyinjectafireretardantgastoextinguishanyfirethatmayhave

Pg.6
startedinsidethetransformercase.Strengtheningofthetransformercasingwouldalsoreduce
theprobabilityoflossofoil.

Measurestocontrolanyburningoilreleasedsubsequenttotransformercasefailurecould
includetheuseofacoveredconcreteundergroundvaultoftensupplementedwithfire
retardantgasinjection,oradeepgravelbed,botheffectivelyseparatingthefuelfromoxygen;
theuseofalessflammablealternativeinsulatingoil;theuseofalternativenonoilbased(e.g.,
sulfurhexafluoridegas)coolingmethods;andadditionalmeasurestosuppresslargeutility
transformerfiresoncetheyoccur.Waterdelugesprinklersystemsaresometimesused,butadd
theriskofoverflowingthecontainmentbasinandpotentiallyspreadingthefireandcreating
unsafeconditionsforworkers.Theyareintendedtocooloverheatedequipmentassociated
withafireandpreventthefirefromspreading,butdontnecessarilyextinguishanoilfueled
fire.Additionally,preventionorsuppressionofthefiredoesnotpreventthesignificantcosts
associatedwiththeinitialfailureandlostrevenueduringrepairs.Andautomateddeluge
systemsruntheriskofaccidentaltriggering,potentiallydamagingthetransformerandcreating
unsafe(e.g.,slippery)conditions.Onsite,specializedfirefightingequipmentrequiresextensive
trainingofonsitepersonnel;otherwise,theyendangerthemselvesandtheemergency
personnelthatultimatelyrespond.

Staffreviewedtheavailablefailureanalysisreportandconcludedthatinthisinstance,the
operationandmaintenanceofthetransformerhadbeenwithinspecificationandthatthe
monitoringofthetransformerconditionbySDG&Ewouldhavebeensufficienttodetect
gradualdegradationoragingtypefailures.Routinemonitoringdidnotindicateanyproblems.
Theteardownfailureanalysisindicatedthatthefailurewasinternaltothetransformer,but
thespecificcausehasnotyetbeendeterminedbytheinvolvedparties.Staffsevaluation
suggeststhatthistransformerssuddenfailurewasmostlikelytheresultofadesign,material,
ormanufacturingdefectinsomecomponentofthetransformer,particularlysincethe
transformerwasonlysixyearsintowhatwouldtypicallybea30to40yearlifetime,andthere
werenodetectedlinevoltagespikesorlightningstrikesthatmighthaveprecipitatedthe
failure.AnalysisbySDG&EandHyundaiofthestilloperatingUnit2transformerdidnot
discoveroperationsoutsideofnormalparameters,orindicatorsthatmightsuggestdegradation
orimminentfailure,orcommonalitieswiththefailedUnit1transformer.

Staffalsodeterminedthatallmeasurestoreducefireriskinvolvesignificantcosts.Manyhave
unprovenperformanceintermsofriskreductionbecauseoflimitedfieldperformance
experience.Thesuddenfailureoflargetransformersisarelativelyrareoccurrence.Thosethat
dofaildontalwaysleakoil.Whenoildoesleak,itcatchesfireandburnsinonlyabouthalfof
thoseinstances.Theinterviewedemergencyrespondersinthisinstanceallreportedthatthis
wastheirfirstexperiencewithalargeutilitytransformerfire.Becauseoftheunpredictable
magnitudeandmodewithwhichsuddenfailurecanoccur,anyofthemeasuresdescribed
abovetoreducethelikelihoodofatransformerfailingwithsubsequentleakingandburningof
oilcannotbeguaranteedtopreventit.

Pg.7
StaffConclusionsandRecommendations
Thesummaryandrecommendationshereinarebasedontheinformationavailabletodate.
Staffwillcontinuetoworkwiththeprojectownerandlocalagenciestodeterminetheefficacy
ofprojectdesignandproceduresinminimizingfirerisk.InthepermittingofPalomarandother
powerplants,staffevaluatestheriskofsignificantpotentialforadverseimpactstopublic
safety.Inevaluatingpotentialadverseimpactsassociatedwithtransformerfailuresatpower
plants,staffhasconcludedthatthepotentialforimpactisreducedtoalevelthatisbelowthe
thresholdofsignificanceusedbystaffinsitingcases.Thisriskreductionisaccomplished
throughtheuseoffirewallstopreventthespreadofanyfirethatstarts,andtheuseof
catchmentbasinstocontaininsulatingoilthatescapesfromthetransformercase,preventing
thespreadofthefireorthereleaseoftheoilsintotheenvironment.

Thisincidentnotwithstanding,staffstillbelievesthatthepotentialforanoffsiteinjuryor
fatalityofamemberofthepublicfromsuchaneventisinsignificant.Theexperienceofthis
particulareventalsotendstoconfirmthattherisktopublicsafetyfromsucheventsisnotlikely
tobesignificantbecausetheyarerare,thefactthatnoPCBsareintheoilthatmightburn,and
therequiredengineeringmeasuresthatareinplacetopreventthefirefromspreading.Staff
thereforeconcludesthatwhilefurthermitigationsmaybetechnicallyfeasible,theyarenot
neededandwouldofferuncertainbenefitforthecostsinvolved.Forthepurposeofrisk
reductionofpotentialimpactstothepublic,addedsafetymeasuresasdescribedabovedonot
appeartobejustifiedatthistimeforthisproject.

ItisstaffsrecommendationthatnoadditionalmitigationberequiredforthePalomarfacilityor
fornewfacilitiestobepermittedbytheEnergyCommissioninthefuture,exceptincaseswith
particularsitespecificcircumstances.Staffwillcontinuetomonitortheoutcomeofanyfuture
transformerfiresatbothEnergyCommissionprojectsandotherpowerplantstoensurethat
staffsconclusionsremainvalid.

Oneconcernthatstillremainsistheconfusionoverwhethertheprojectownerwasrequiredto
reportthefiretotheEnergyCommissioninatimelymanner.Asaresultofthisconcernstaff
willaddanewgeneralconditionofcertificationthatclearlyrequiresfutureEnergyCommission
permittedfacilities,orexistingprojectsthatarebeingamended,toreportanyfireor
emergencyeventstotheEnergyCommissionwithintwohours,andprovideadetailedincident
reportwithinamonthoftheevent.

Pg.8
References
Reverse911CallLogsofDecember22and23,2010,CityofEscondidoPoliceDepartment,
Received8/2/2011
RecordofConversationwithMarthaEllis,CommunicationsManager,CityofEscondidoPolice
Department,July25,2011
RecordofConversationwithNickVent,SupervisingEnvironmentalHealthSpecialist,County
ofSanDiegoDepartmentofEnvironmentalHealth,June30,2011
RecordofConversationwithBattalionChiefJohnTenger,CityofEscondidoFireDepartment,
June21,2011
RecordofConversationwithSectionLeadBarthel,CampPendletonAirCrashFireTeam,
June14,2011
ConsultantsReportRe:SitevisitSDG&EPalomarCombinedCyclePowerPlant:Transformer
Fire,EDMServices,January7,2011
ReporttotheCaliforniaEnergyCommissionRegardingSanDiegoGas&ElectricCompanys
December22,2010TransformerIncidentatPalomarEnergyCenter,SDG&ECompany,
April13,2011
ReportofSiteVisittoPalomarEnergyCenterbyDaleRundquist,File01AFC24C,12/28/2010
IncidentReportEventNumber:EF100011271CaseNumber:1011083,EscondidoFire
Department,printed12/28/2010
LetterfromChiefMichaelLowry,EscondidoFireDepartmenttoJamesD.Boyd,
Commissioner,CaliforniaEnergyCommissionre:CarlsbadSitingCase,May16,2011,Docket
07AFC6,Exhibit437
Transformers:Basics,Maintenance,andDiagnostics,U.S.DepartmentoftheInterior,Bureau
ofReclamation,April2005
TransformerFireProtection,U.S.DepartmentoftheInterior,BureauofReclamation,
January2005
AnalysisofTransformerFailures,WilliamH.BartleyP.E.,InternationalAssociationof
EngineeringInsurers,36thAnnualConferenceStockholm,2003
AnAnalysisofTransformerFailures,Parts1and21988through1997,WilliamH.Bartley
P.E.,TheLocomotive,http://www.hsb.com/Thelocomotive,TheHartfordSteamBoiler
InspectionandInsuranceCompany,obtainedJune29,2011
ProgressReportonFailuresofHighvoltageBushingswithDrawLeads,PanelDiscussionLed
byPhilHopkinson,IEEEFellow,PowerandEnergySocietyGeneralMeeting,2010IEEE,
Minneapolis,MN,July2529,2010

Pg.9
AppendixA.ChronologyofFireResponseEvents

December22,2010
1208 Failureoftransformer
1210 Callto911toreportfire
1218 EscondidoFireDepartmentarrivesonscene
1235 Decisiontoletfireburnitselfdown
1247 CountyHealth,SDFDHazmat,andEscondidoPoliceDepartmentadvised
1300 Firstreverse911call
1330 SDFDHazmatUnitarrives
1410 CampPendletonHazmat,SDCountyHealth,andHIRTarriveonscene
1524 DecisiontocallCampPendletonAirRescueandFireFighting(ARFF)UnitFoam
Tanker
1524 DecisionmadebySDG&Etoshutdownremaininggenerators:Unit2Combustion
TurbineGeneratorandtheSteamTurbineGenerator
1535 CallplacedtorequestCampPendletonARFFUnitfoamtanker
1541 SteamTurbineGeneratoristakenoffline
1542 Unit2CombustionTurbineGeneratoristakenoffline
1636 Secondreverse911call(updatingthefirstcall)
1705 OrientandbriefAARFusingcameraviewfromcontrolroom
Planningmeetingforfireattackplan
Safetybriefingforresponders
1930 Attackfirewithfoam
1945 Calloffattackonfire
Returntothedecisiontoletburnitselfdown
2113 Releaseunneededresourcesforthenight(Airqualityunit,afireengine,andthe
foamtruckremainedonsitethroughoutthenighttomonitorfire)

December23,2010
0742 Thirdreverse911call(regardingshiftingwinds)
1100 Briefinganddecisiontotryfoamagain
Planningmeetingtotrynewattackonfire
Temporarybermexpansionaroundcatchmentbasintohandleoverflow
potentiallycausedbyfoam/firewater
1310 Callinsupportresourcesforattackonfire
Meetingtobriefnewlyarrivedresources
1405 Attackfireagainwithfoam
1418 Firefullyknockeddown,continuewithwaterspray
1501 Fourthreverse911call(tocancelearliercalls)
1600 Allemergencyresponseunitsreleased
Sources:IncidentReportEventNumber:EF100011271,CaseNumber:1011083,and
ROCsaslistedinReferences

Pg.10
AppendixB.PhotographsofPalomarTransformerFire

Dec22,2010(Day1)

Dec23,2010(Day2)

Pg.11

AppendixC.AerialPhotographofPalomarEnergyCenter

PhotographofPalomarEnergyCenterwithCitracadoParkwayrunningnorth
southonwestside.Markerindicateslocationoftransformerthatburned.An
earthenbermliesbetweenthepowerplantandCitracadoParkway.

Pg.12

AppendixD.Mapofreverse911CallRecipientsre:PalomarTransformerFire

Mapshowinglocationsofreverse911callrecipientswithin1mileradiusofPalomar
EnergyCenteronDec23and23,2010.Source:CityofEscondidoPoliceDepartment

Pg.13