Once-Through Cooling Interim Mitigation Program

Funding Opportunity

This funding opportunity is now closed.

2020 Marine Protected Area (MPA) Outreach and Education Small Grants Program

The Ocean Protection Council is pleased to announce a funding opportunity for projects focused on outreach and education to improve compliance with marine protected area regulations in California.

The MPA Outreach and Education Small Grants Program, funded by the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) through the Once-Through Cooling (OTC) Interim Mitigation Program and administered by Coastal Quest, is a competitive grant program providing support for projects focused on outreach and education to improve compliance with MPA regulations statewide. Applicants may submit proposals for $25,000 – $100,000. A minimum total of $750,000 will be distributed under the MPA Outreach and Education Small Grants Program’s request for proposals (RFP).


Small Grants Program full RFP here


Information Webinar Recordings:

Recording of the webinar on December 19th, 2019 here

Recording of the webinar on January 14th, 2020 here

Webinar presentation PDF


This announcement invites the submission of proposals for projects that:

  • Increase outreach and education to improve compliance with MPA regulations locally, regionally, and/or statewide;
  • Can have significant value for the state, such as developing replicable methods and increasing local capacity through project implementation;
  • Impact geographic scales of 1) statewide and/or 2) from San Diego to Big Sur (near Lucia), including waters around the Channel Islands. A small amount of funds provided by matching philanthropic donors will be available for projects north of Big Sur (near Lucia), with priority given to underserved communities;
  • Show relevance with the OTC Program’s Award Guidelines and other key resources such as the California MPA Education and Outreach Needs Assessment, the California MPA Network Outreach and Education Guide, the MPA Statewide Leadership Team Work Plan; and
  • Demonstrate a lasting impact on communities targeted through these projects.  

For successful applicants, work is expected to begin approximately on June 1, 2020 and must end no later than December 1, 2021.

Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. PST, January 27, 2020 using the SOAR electronic proposal submission system.


Important documents                                                    

Small Grants Program full RFP 

OTC Program’s Award Guidelines


Templates for use in the grant proposal application

Task List and Timeline Template

Budget Template


Helpful documents

Application Checklist Form

General Conditions and Budget Guidelines for Grantees

SOAR user manual (instruction on how to use SOAR system)

SOAR frequently asked questions

California MPA Education and Outreach Needs Assessment

California MPA Network Outreach and Education Guide

MPA Statewide Leadership Team Work Plan

MPA Collaborative Project Library – An inventory of all the products made in the last round (2019) of MPA outreach and education small grants to the MPA collaboratives.

California MPAs Outreach Toolkit – A suite of resources, including brochures, signs, maps, exhibits, posters and more, all specific to MPAs and developed by many partners across the state of California.


Submit RFP and underserved community technical assistance questions to Coastal Quest: Tegan Hoffmann, tegan@coastal-quest.org

Submit questions about state priorities within the MPA Management Program to CA Ocean Protection Council: Scott Shatto, Scott.Shatto@resources.ca.gov


Once-Through Cooling Interim Mitigation Program Information


Future funding solicitations will be announced on this website and through the OPC listserv. Click here if you would like to be added to the OPC listserv. Please check back regularly for updates.



Once-Through Cooling Interim Mitigation Program (Program) funds can be distributed through two funding mechanisms: 1) a competitive award program, and 2) discretionary awards, including but not limited to interagency contracts and other projects addressing timely or emerging problems. The Program’s Award Guidelines establish the high-level process and criteria that OPC will use to solicit competitive applications, evaluate and select proposals, and distribute awards. As Program priorities and the amount of interim mitigation funds received may change from year to year, the competitive solicitation released each year will provide more specific details on the types of projects OPC is soliciting and the amount of funding available. Program priorities are defined in Section 1.2.



The Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) released a report in June 2018 entitled “Ocean Restoration Methods: Scientific Guidance for Once-Through Cooling Mitigation Policy”. This report provides essential guidance on the scientific principles needed to identify restoration projects that meaningfully offset the impacts of once-through cooling.

A Working Group of the OPC-SAT, convened by the Ocean Science Trust, applied the best science available to help identify an ecological framework that would allow the evaluation of projects that would have a high likelihood of meeting the requirements of the Policy to increase marine life associated with California’s MPA network. Their findings determined that due to oceanographic currents connecting locations both inside and outside of MPAs, harmful effects of once-through cooling extends hundreds of kilometers from a power plant’s intake pipe. Given the geographic extent of power plants still using once-through cooling, the findings of this report define the areas impacted as the entirety of State waters (3 nautical miles from the coastline) from San Diego to Big Sur coast (near Lucia), including the waters around the Channel Islands.




Once-through cooling (OTC) technology pulls water from the ocean to cool power plants. Marine animals, seaweeds, and billions of eggs and larvae of fish and invertebrates are taken in with the seawater and killed as they are subjected to thermal, physical, and/or chemical stresses. Larger organisms may also be pinned against seawater intake screens, causing injury or death. These impacts contribute to the decline of fisheries and the degradation of marine habitats near power plants using once-through cooling.

To address these damaging impacts, the State Water Resources Control Board established a Once-Through Cooling Policy (Policy) in 2010 requiring power plants to stop using once-through cooling technology. The Policy originally applied to 19 coastal power plants (including two nuclear plants) that had the ability to withdraw over 15 billion gallons per day from the State’s coastal and estuarine waters using OTC systems. Closed-cycle wet cooling has been selected as Best Technology Available and permittees must either reduce intake flow and velocity or reduce impacts to aquatic life comparably by other means. The Policy requires power plants that are not in compliance to make mitigation payments annually based on their annual intake volume of water until they come into compliance. To ensure grid reliability, final compliance dates were negotiated with each of the plants listed on the map after the name of each power plant (right).  Through closures of older plants, denoted by strike-through on the map, and retrofits to come into compliance prior to the payment program beginning, there are now 10 power plants that will be making payments until they come into compliance (highlighted in yellow). OPC will receive up to $5.4 million annually from these mitigation payments to fund to its OTC Interim Mitigation Program. Funds will decrease as power plants come into compliance with the Policy, and the Program is expected to end in 2029 when all power plants are required to be in compliance.

The policy gives a clear directive that funds received through this program will support “mitigation projects directed toward increases in marine life associated with the state’s marine protected areas in the geographic region of the facility”. To further implement the Policy and build out the OTC Interim Mitigation Program, OPC entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Water Resources Control Board that allocates $5.4 million of the annual payments to mitigate the impacts of OTC on state MPAs. The allotment amount was based on an interagency budget analysis conducted by the MPA Statewide Leadership Team of costs associated with the MPA Management Program that have a direct nexus with OTC impacts.

The Ocean Protection Council’s Once-Through Cooling Interim Mitigation Program directs mitigation payment investment through four critical components:

  • Enforcement of MPA regulations statewide
  • Outreach and education to improve compliance of MPA regulations statewide
  • Research to establish and quantify the expected ecological benefits of the MPA Network and
    understand what additional mitigation may be required to offset OTC impacts
  • Restoration that increases marine life in the geographic region of the facility

For more information on the impacts of OTC and how the MPA Management Program is linked to the OTC Interim Mitigation Program, click HERE.




Tova Handelman
Marine Protected Areas Program Manager