The means for protecting coastal land surrounding Pacific Gas & Electric\u2019s nuclear power plant--be it by a conservation easement held by a third party or a deed restriction under PG&E\u2019s control--was the subject of a California Coastal Commission hearing March 5. The commission required 1,200 acres around the nuclear plant to be set aside for preservation in a deal the utility made in exchange for damage from the plant\u2019s thermal output to the local marine environment. PG&E plans to replace the steam generators in its nuclear units near San Luis Obispo Thus, a commission permit was required for the $815 million upgrade to the 1980s-era nuclear units. However, the protective designation verbally discussed prior to a commission vote and subsequently written into the permit differed. Commission analyst Tom Luster said the written permit, which stated the land was to be protected by a deed restriction following a December 2006 vote, was erroneous. The commission meeting record shows that only a conservation easement was discussed for the parcel. He added that the utility has had problems in the past with third parties holding conservation easements on their land. PG&E was notified of the claimed error but balked, saying it relied on the written permit designation. During this week\u2019s hearing, Pat Mullens, PG&E director of governmental affairs, said that the company doubted the commission had the authority to revoke and revise the permit. The staff initially proposed requiring that 9,000 acres be set aside under a conservation easement, but the commission reduced the holding to 1,200 acres. The commissioners voted 8-1 that the property at issue was covered by a deed restriction. In May, a permit to allow Southern California Edison to replace its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station steam generators comes up for a vote. Also at this week\u2019s meeting, commission staff noted that it was working on mitigation measures on the Poseidon Resources project, a plan to build a desalination facility adjacent to a water-cooled power plant to reduce the cost of turning salt water into potable water. Commission staff is working with the desalination developer on its compliance with two measures to reduce the facility\u2019s environmental impacts, said analyst Alison Detmers. The agency approved the project next to a power plant in Carlsbad owned by NRG Energy in November 2007. It seeks to protect marine life pulled into the power plant\u2019s intake and limit greenhouse gases from the energy intensive desalination plant. In January, two environmental organizations sued the coastal commission after it approved the project.