Dodd’s California Wildfire Bill Heads to Governors Desk

Press Release

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SACRAMENTO — Lawmakers approved a comprehensive wildfire safety plan that will prevent future infernos like those that have been ravaging the state while protecting utility ratepayers from bearing unfair costs.

Senate Bill 901 was approved on votes of 29 to 4 in the Senate and 45 to 10 in the Assembly. It heads next to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

“From the start of this year, my highest priority was and remains responding to past wildfires and preventing future tragedies,” said Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, chairman of the bipartisan conference committee that drafted the bill. “My goals were simple – to stand up for constituents and ensure they recovered all they are entitled to for the damage they suffered, protect Californians from new wildfires and destruction, hold electric utilities accountable and protect the long-term interests of ratepayers. I believe this bill achieves those aims.”

SB 901 attacks the wildfire problem on multiple levels including requiring better forest management practices, increased fuel reduction efforts, the de-energizing of electric utility power lines in extreme weather and a general hardening of the utility grid. It also protects ratepayers against bearing unfair costs, in part by authorizing the use of ratepayer protection bonds for utilities.

Without the debt stabilization mechanism for utilities, the corporations could face higher borrowing costs or even bankruptcy, which will translate into significantly higher rates, Senator Dodd said.

“Make no mistake – Senate Bill 901 is necessary,” Senator Dodd said. “Without it, ratepayers will be left holding the bag and communities will needlessly suffer.”

 

According to the Bill:

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

 

SB 901, as amended, Dodd. Electrical corporations: local publicly owned electric utilities: electrical cooperatives: wildfire mitigation plans and measures. Wildfires.
(1) Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act, among other things, authorizes the Governor, with the advice of the Office of Emergency Services, to divide the state into mutual aid regions for the more effective application, administration, and coordination of mutual aid and other emergency-related activities. Existing law authorizes the Office of Emergency Services to coordinate response and recovery operations in the mutual aid regions. The Budget Act of 2018 appropriated $99,376,000 to the Office of Emergency Services for purposes of local assistance. Of those funds, $25,000,000 was made available, pursuant to a schedule, for equipment and technology that improves the mutual aid system. Existing law authorizes the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to administer various programs, including grant programs, relating to forest health and wildfire protection.
This bill would revise the Budget Act of 2018 to provide that the $25,000,000 described above shall be applied to support activities directly related to regional response and readiness. The bill would provide that these activities include predeployment of California Office of Emergency Services fire and rescue and local government resources that are part of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System or additional resources upon the authority and approval of the California Office of Emergency Services to meet the requirements for state resources called up for predisaster and disaster response.
This bill would state that 2 separate appropriations, one for $165,000,000 and one for $35,000,000, shall be made in each Budget Act through the 2023–24 fiscal year from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to CalFire, each for separately identified purposes relating to forest health, fire prevention, and fuel reduction.
(2) Existing law establishes conservation easements as interests in real property that are voluntarily created and freely transferable and that are created to retain land predominantly in its natural, scenic, historical, agricultural, forested, or open-space condition.
This bill would require, for any conservation easement purchased with state funds on or after January 1, 2019, wherein land subject to the easement includes some forest lands, or consists completely of forest lands, to the extent not in conflict with federal law, the terms of any applicable bond, or the requirements of any other funding source, the landowner shall agree, as part of the easement, to maintain and improve forest health through promotion of a more natural tree density, species composition, structure, and habitat function, to make improvements that increase the land’s ability to provide resilient, long-term carbon sequestration and net carbon stores as well as watershed functions, to provide for the retention of larger trees and a natural range of age classes, and to ensure the growth and retention of such larger trees over time.
(3) The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 designates the State Air Resources Board (state air board) as the state agency charged with monitoring and regulating sources of emissions of greenhouse gases. The state air board is required to adopt a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit, as specified, and to adopt rules and regulations in an open public process to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions. The act authorizes the state air board to include in its regulation of those emissions the use of market-based compliance mechanisms. Existing law requires all moneys, except for fines and penalties, collected by the state air board as part of a market-based compliance mechanism to be deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and to be available upon appropriation by the Legislature. Existing law requires the Department of Finance, in consultation with the state air board and any other relevant state agency, to develop and update, as specified, a 3-year investment plan for the moneys deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
This bill would require the state air board, in consultation with CalFire, to develop a standardized approach to quantifying the direct carbon emissions and decay from fuel reduction activities for purposes of meeting the accounting requirements for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund expenditures, a historic baseline of greenhouse gas emissions from California’s natural fire regime reflecting conditions before modern fire suppression, and a report that assesses greenhouse gas emissions associated with wildfire and forest management activities, as provided.
(4) Existing law requires CalFire to provide fire prevention and firefighting implements and apparatus, and organize fire crews and other services, related to the prevention and control of forest fires.
This bill would require CalFire to create a Wildfire Resilience Program for purposes of assisting nonindustrial timberland owners with wildfire resilience efforts by providing technical assistance on prescribed topics, including helping applicants navigate the permitting process. The bill would require CalFire to make specified information available to nonindustrial timberland owners.
This bill would require, contingent on the enactment of AB 1956 of the 2017–18 Regular Session, the department to prioritize local assistance grant funding applications from local agencies based on the “Fire Risk Reduction Community” list, as provided.
(5) Existing law required the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (state forestry board), on or before September 1, 2011, to adopt emergency regulations to establish a fire prevention fee in an amount not to exceed $150 to be charged on each habitable structure, as defined, on a parcel that is within a state responsibility area, as defined, and authorized the board to annually adjust the fire prevention fees using prescribed methods.
Existing law requires that the fire prevention fees collected, except as provided, be deposited into the State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund and be made available to the state forestry board and CalFire for certain specified fire prevention activities that benefit the owners of habitable structures in state responsibility areas who are required to pay the fee.
Existing law, commencing with the 2017–18 fiscal year, suspended the fire prevention fee and required any moneys held in reserve in the fund to be appropriated by the Legislature in a manner consistent with the purposes of the fund. Existing law expresses the intent of the Legislature that moneys derived from the auction or sale of allowances pursuant to a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program market-based compliance mechanism shall be used to replace the moneys that would have otherwise been collected to continue fire prevention activities.
This bill would provide that the amount appropriated in the annual Budget Act pursuant to the statement of legislative intent referenced above not be included in determining the amount of annual proceeds of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for purposes of specified calculations.
(6) The Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 prohibits a person from conducting timber operations, defined to mean the cutting or removal, or both, of timber or other solid wood forest products from timberlands for commercial purposes, unless a timber harvesting plan prepared by a registered professional forester has been submitted for the operations to CalFire. The act provides an exception from its provisions for timber operations that involve the removal of trees less than 16 inches in diameter at breast height from a firebreak or fuelbreak if the removal meets specified requirements, including the requirement that the removed trees will not be processed into logs or lumber.
This bill would provide an exception to the requirement that the removed trees not be processed into logs or lumber for a fuelbreak conducted by a public agency or a nonprofit organization, as provided.
The act authorizes the state forestry board to exempt from some or all of those provisions of the act a person engaging in specified forest management activities, including the cutting or removal of trees in compliance with existing law relating to defensible space. Existing law requires surface fuels that promote the spread of wildfire to be removed from all areas of the timber operations within 45 days from the start of timber operations and provides that any not so removed after that time may be determined to be a nuisance, as provided.
This bill would instead provide that all fuel treatments related to the cutting or removal of trees in compliance with existing law relating to defensible space that do not comply with state forestry board rules and regulations may be determined to be a nuisance, as provided.
The bill would establish, until a specified date, the Small Timberland Owner Exemption, which would exempt from the act the cutting or removal of trees on property of no more than 100 acres within a single planning watershed, depending on location of the property, that eliminates the vertical continuity of vegetative fuels and the horizontal continuity of tree crowns for the purpose of reducing flammable materials and maintaining a fuel break, subject to specified conditions.
The bill would require the state forestry board to comply with specified standards when adopting those regulations related to the Small Timberland Owner Exemptions and other exemptions, as provided, as determined appropriate and necessary by the state forestry board.
The act authorizes, until January 1, 2021, the Forest Fire Prevention Pilot Project Exemption if specified conditions are met, including that only trees less than 26 inches in stump diameter, measured at 8 inches above ground level, be removed, no new road construction or reconstruction occur, and the activities be conducted in specified counties.
This bill would revise and recast the exemption to, until a specified date, allow the construction or reconstruction of temporary roads on slopes of 30% or less, if certain conditions are met, including that temporary roads or landings are not located on unstable areas, are single-lane in width, and are not located across a connected headwall swale, among other things. The bill would require the state forestry board to comply with specified standards when adopting those regulations.
The bill would make other related changes to the exemptions.
Existing law requires the department and the state forestry board, until January 1, 2019, to review and submit a report to the Legislature on the trends in the use of, compliance with, and effectiveness of, timber harvest exemptions and emergency notice provisions, as provided. Existing law requires the report to include an analysis of any barriers for small forest owners presented by the exemptions.
This bill would delete the requirement that the report include the above analysis. The bill would require the department and the state forestry board, until a specified date, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, to annually submit a report to the Legislature that also includes information on the number and type of violations and enforcement actions taken on each notice of exemption and emergency notice, among other things.
The act requires the state forestry board to adopt district forest practice rules and regulations, as provided, to ensure the continuous growing and harvesting of commercial forest tree species and to protect the soil, air, fish, wildlife, and water resources.
This bill would require the Forest Management Task Force to report to the Legislature on or before July 1, 2020, on opportunities to streamline the act and associated rules and regulations to expedite forest health projects while preserving the resource protection functions of the act.
Existing law requires the state forestry board to adopt regulations implementing minimum fire safety standards related to defensible space that are applicable to state responsibility area lands and lands under the authority of CalFire, and specifies that these regulations apply to the perimeters and access to all residential, commercial, and industrial building construction within state responsibility areas approved after January 1, 1991.
This bill would also require the state forestry board to adopt regulations implementing minimum fire safety standards that are applicable to lands classified and designated as very high fire hazard severity zones and would require the regulations to apply to the perimeters and access to all residential, commercial, and industrial building construction within lands classified and designated as very high fire hazard severity zones, as defined, after July 1, 2021. The bill would further require the state forestry board to, on and after July 1, 2021, periodically update regulations for fuel breaks and greenbelts near communities to provide greater fire safety for the perimeters to all residential, commercial, and industrial building construction within state responsibility areas and lands classified and designated as very high fire hazard severity zones after that date. The bill would require the state forestry board, on or before July 1, 2022, to develop criteria and maintain a “Fire Risk Reduction Community” list of local agencies located in a state responsibility area or a very high fire hazard severity zone that meet best practices for local fire planning.
The act authorizes a person who intends to become a working forest landowner or a nonindustrial tree farmer, as defined, to file a working forest management plan or a nonindustrial timber management plan, as the case may be, with the department, with the long-term objective of an uneven aged timber stand and sustained yield through the implementation of the plan. Existing law defines “nonindustrial timber management plan” to mean a management plan for nonindustrial timberlands, as provided. The bill would remove from working forest management plans a required description and discussion of the methods to be used to avoid significant sediment discharge to watercourses from timber operations.
This bill would provide that a nonindustrial timber management plan may include multiple tree farmers, but shall not cover more than 2,500 acres. The bill would require that working forest landowners comply with all applicable regulatory requirements of the state water board and the appropriate regional water quality control board. The bill would revise the definition of a “working forest landowner” to reduce the acreage that may be the subject of an approved working forest management plan, from less than 15,000 acres, to less than 10,000 acres, would authorize a plan to include multiple working forest landowners, and require that a plan be contained within a single hydrologic area, as specified.
This bill would authorize the state forestry board to adopt emergency regulations for these purposes, as specified.
(7) Existing law authorizes the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection to provide grants to entities, including, but not limited to, private or nongovernmental entities, Native American tribes, or local, state, and federal public agencies, for the implementation and administration of projects and programs to improve forest health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Existing law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of an environmental impact report on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect. CEQA also requires a lead agency to prepare a mitigated negative declaration for a project that may have a significant effect on the environment if revisions in the project would avoid or mitigate that effect and there is no substantial evidence that the project, as revised, would have a significant effect on the environment.
This bill would provide that, until January 1, 2023, under specified conditions, CEQA would not apply to prescribed fire, thinning, or fuel reduction projects undertaken on federal lands to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire that have been reviewed under the federal National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The bill would also provide that CEQA would not apply to the issuance of a permit or other project approval by a state or local agency for these fire, thinning, or fuel reduction projects. Because a lead agency would be required to determine if this exemption from CEQA applies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would require CalFire, commencing December 31, 2019, and annually thereafter, to report to the relevant policy committees of the Legislature the number of times these provisions were used. The bill would provide that these provisions shall remain operative only if the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency certifies on or before January 1 of each year that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 or other federal laws that affect the management of federal forest lands in California have not being substantially amended on or after August 31, 2018.
(8) Existing law creates the Office of Planning and Research in the Governor’s office to provide the Governor and his or her cabinet with long-range land use planning and research and to serve as the comprehensive state planning agency.
This bill would establish within the Office of Planning and Research the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery. The bill would require the commission to consist of 5 appointed members with specified expertise, as provided. The bill would require the commission to hold at least 4 public meetings throughout the state for purposes of accepting public and expert testimony on, and for evaluating and making recommendations on, specified matters relating to the costs of damage associated with catastrophic wildfires, as provided. The bill would require the commission, on or before July 1, 2019, and in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Insurance Commissioner, to prepare a report containing its assessment of the issues surrounding catastrophic wildfire costs and the reduction of damage, and making recommendations for changes to law that would ensure equitable distribution of costs among affected parties.
(9) Under existing law, the PUC has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations and gas corporations. Existing law authorizes the PUC to establish rules for all public utilities, subject to control by the Legislature. Under existing law, any public utility that violates or fails to comply with any provision of the California Constitution or the Public Utilities Act, or that fails or neglects to comply with any order, decision, decree, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the PUC, is generally subject to a penalty of not less than $500, nor more than $50,000 for each offense. Existing law authorizes the PUC to fix the rates and charges for every public utility and requires that those rates and charges be just and reasonable. Existing law prohibits a gas corporation from recovering any fine or penalty in any rate approved by the PUC.
This bill would increase that maximum penalty to $100,000. The bill would prohibit an electrical corporation from recovering a fine or penalty through a rate approved by the PUC, and would make related nonsubstantive changes. This bill would authorize the PUC, in an application by an electrical corporation to recover costs and expenses arising from a catastrophic wildfire, to allow cost recovery if the costs and expenses are just and reasonable, based on the PUC’s consideration of the conduct of the electrical corporation and relevant information submitted into the PUC’s record, including, but not limited to, information regarding specified factors.
(10) Existing law prohibits an electrical corporation or gas corporation, for a period of 5 years following a safety violation causing more than $5,000,000 in ratepayer liability, as specified, from recovering from ratepayers expenses for annual compensation of an officer in excess of $1,000,000 without PUC approval. Existing law requires the electrical corporation or gas corporation seeking to pay, or seeking recovery of, annual officer compensation in excess of $1,000,000 during that 5-year period to file an application with the PUC containing specified information. Existing law requires the PUC, following a duly noticed public hearing in a proceeding to consider the application, to issue a written decision on the application.
This bill would repeal the above provisions relating to excess annual compensation of utility officers. The bill would prohibit an electrical corporation or gas corporation from recovering from ratepayers any annual salary, bonus, benefits, or other consideration of any value, paid to an officer of the electrical corporation or gas corporation, and would require that compensation to instead be funded solely by shareholders of the electrical corporation or gas corporation.
(11) Existing law authorizes the PUC, after a hearing, to require every public utility to construct, maintain, and operate its line, plant, system, equipment, apparatus, tracks, and premises in a manner so as to promote and safeguard the health and safety of its employees, passengers, customers, and the public. The act requires electrical corporations to annually prepare and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the PUC for review.
This bill would require each plan to include additional elements, and would require an independent evaluator to review and assess the electrical corporation’s compliance with its plan. The bill would authorize the electrical corporation to recover in rates the costs of the independent evaluator. The bill would require the PUC to approve the plan and to consider the independent evaluator’s findings, as specified. The bill would require the PUC to assess penalties on an electrical corporation that fails to substantially comply with its plan.
The bill would require an independent 3rd-party evaluator to conduct a safety culture assessment of each electrical corporation, the costs of which would not be recoverable in rates by the electrical corporation.
This bill would require that an electrical corporation that has a contract for private fire safety and prevention, mitigation, or maintenance services, only use those services for the direct defense of utility infrastructure. The bill would require an electrical corporation to make maximum effort to reduce or eliminate the use of contract private fire safety and prevention, mitigation, and maintenance personnel in favor of employing highly skilled and apprenticed personnel to perform fire safety and prevention, mitigation, or maintenance services in direct defense of utility infrastructure in collaboration with public agency fire departments having jurisdiction.
(12) Under existing law, local publicly owned electric utilities and electrical cooperatives are under the direction of their governing boards. Existing law requires each local publicly owned electric utility and electrical cooperative to construct, maintain, and operate its electrical lines and equipment in a manner that will minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire posed by those electrical lines and equipment. Existing law requires the governing board of a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to determine whether any portion of the geographical area where the utility’s overhead electrical lines and equipment are located has a significant risk of catastrophic wildfire resulting from those electrical lines and equipment and, if so, requires the utility, at an interval determined by its board, to present to its board for approval those wildfire mitigation measures the utility intends to undertake to minimize the risk of its overhead electrical lines and equipment causing a catastrophic wildfire. Existing law authorizes a governing board of a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to determine that a fire prevention plan it prepared and submitted to, and which was approved by, a federal agency as a license condition meets these requirements for those areas covered by the plan.
This bill would require those utilities to prepare wildfire mitigation measures if the utilities’ overhead electrical lines and equipment are located in an area that has a significant risk of wildfire resulting from those electrical lines and equipment. The bill would require the wildfire mitigation measures to incorporate specified information and procedures. The bill would require the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative, before January 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, to prepare a wildfire mitigation plan, except where its governing board determined that its federally approved fire prevention plan met the otherwise applicable requirements. The bill would require specified information and elements to be included in the plan. The bill would require the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to present each plan in an appropriately noticed public meeting, to accept comments on the plan from the public, other local and state agencies, and interested parties, and to verify that the plan complies with all applicable rules, regulations, and standards, as appropriate. The bill would require the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to contract with a qualified independent evaluator to review and assess the comprehensiveness of its plan.
By placing additional duties upon local publicly owned electric utilities, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(13) This bill would require the PUC and CalFire to enter into a memorandum of understanding to cooperatively develop consistent approaches and share data related to fire prevention, safety, vegetation management, and energy distribution systems and to share results from various fire prevention activities, including relevant inspections and fire ignition data.
(14) The existing restructuring of the electrical services industry provides for the issuance of rate reduction bonds by the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank for the recovery of transition costs, as defined, by electrical corporations. Existing law authorizes the PUC to issue financing orders, to support the issuance of recovery bonds, as defined, by the recovery corporation, as defined, secured by a dedicated rate component, to finance the unamortized balance of the regulatory asset awarded Pacific Gas and Electric Company in PUC Decision 03-12-035.
This bill would, under specific circumstances, authorize the PUC, upon application by an electrical corporation, to issue financing orders to support the issuance of recovery bonds to finance costs, in excess of insurance proceeds, incurred, or that are expected to be incurred, by an electrical corporation, excluding fines and penalties, related to wildfires, as provided.
(15) Existing law prohibits a person or corporation from merging, acquiring, or controlling either directly or indirectly any public utility organized and doing business in this state without first securing authorization to do so from the PUC.
This bill would require, in the context of a change of control of an electrical corporation or gas corporation, a successor employer to retain all covered employees, as defined, for at least 180 days immediately following the effective date of a change of control. The bill would prohibit the successor employer from reducing the total compensation of a covered employee during that period. The bill would prohibit, for 2 years after the 180-day period, a successor employer from reducing the total number of employees who would have been covered employees for succession purposes below the total number of those employees who were protected during that 180-day period, unless approved by the PUC. The bill would prohibit the PUC from authorizing a successor employer to reduce the number of those employees unless the successor employer makes a specified showing.
This bill would establish procedures for rehearing and judicial review of any order or decision made pursuant to the above-described provisions.
(16) The California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program requires the PUC to implement annual procurement targets for the procurement of eligible renewable energy resources, as defined, for all retail sellers, which includes electrical corporations, to achieve the targets and goals of the program. The program requires electrical corporations, by December 1, 2016, to collectively procure, through financial commitments of 5 years, their proportionate share of 125 megawatts of cumulative rated generating capacity from bioenergy projects commencing operation prior to June 1, 2013, that each produces its generation using specified minimum percentages of certain types of forest feedstock. Pursuant to existing law, the PUC has adopted resolutions establishing fuel or feedstock procurement requirements for generation from bioenergy projects intended to reduce wildfire risks that are applicable to the state’s 3 largest electrical corporations.
This bill would expand the fuels and feedstocks that are eligible to meet these wildfire risk reduction fuel and feedstock requirements. The bill would require that the state’s 3 largest electrical corporations allow bioenergy facilities under contract to report fuel or feedstock used to meet those contracts on a monthly or annual basis and to allow a bioenergy facility to opt out of the mandated fuel or feedstock usage levels in any particular month upon providing written notice in the month of operation to the electrical corporation, as specified.
This bill would require an electrical corporation, local publicly owned electric utility, or community choice aggregator with a contract to procure electricity generated from biomass that is operative at any time in 2018, and expires or expired on or before December 31, 2023, to seek to amend the contract to include, or seek approval for a new contract that includes, an expiration date 5 years later than the expiration date in the contract that was operative in 2018, so long as the contract extension follows the feedstock requirement. This requirement would be limited to facilities sourcing fuel material in California and would not apply to facilities located in certain air basins.
(17) Under existing law, a violation of the Public Utilities Act or an order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the PUC is a crime.
Because the certain provisions of this bill would be a part of the act and because a violation of an order or decision of the PUC implementing its requirements would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(18) This bill would incorporate additional changes to Section 4799.05 of the Public Resources Code proposed by SB 1079 to be operative only if this bill and SB 1079 are enacted and this bill is enacted last.
(19) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for specified reasons.

Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, while local publicly owned electric utilities and electrical cooperatives are under the direction of their governing boards. Existing law requires each electrical corporation, local publicly owned electric utility, and electrical cooperative to construct, maintain, and operate its electrical lines and equipment in a manner that will minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire posed by those electrical lines and equipment. Existing law requires each electrical corporation to annually prepare a wildfire mitigation plan and to submit its plan to the commission for review, as specified. Existing law requires the commission to review and comment on the submitted plan, as specified. Existing law requires the governing board of a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to determine whether any portion of the geographical area where the utility’s overhead electrical lines and equipment are located has a significant risk of catastrophic wildfire resulting from those electrical lines and equipment and, if so, requires the utility, at an interval determined by its board, to present to its board for approval those wildfire mitigation measures the utility intends to undertake to minimize the risk of its overhead electrical lines and equipment causing a catastrophic wildfire.

This bill would require a wildfire mitigation plan prepared by an electrical corporation, and wildfire mitigation measures prepared by a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative, to include a description of the factors the preparing entity uses to determine when it may be necessary to deenergize its electrical lines and deactivate its reclosers, including meteorological and fire threat conditions, and an assessment of risks to the health and welfare of customers who may lose power. The bill would also require a wildfire mitigation plan and wildfire mitigation measures to include appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying customers, including, as a priority, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure, who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines.

Under existing law, a violation of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.

Because a violation of these provisions by an electrical corporation would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Additionally, by placing additional duties upon local publicly owned electric utilities, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for specified reasons.

A link to the Conference Committee website is here: http://focus.senate.ca.gov/wildfirecommittee.

 

Votes:

08/31/18 (PASS) Assembly Floor 49 14 17 SB 901 Dodd Conference Report By HOLDEN
Ayes: Aguiar-Curry, Travis Allen, Berman, Bigelow, Brough, Burke, Calderon, Carrillo, Chau, Chen, Chiu, Choi, Chu, Cooley, Cooper, Dahle, Daly, Eggman, Flora, Frazier, Friedman, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Gloria, Gonzalez Fletcher, Harper, Holden, Irwin, Jones-Sawyer, Low, Mayes, Medina, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Quirk, Reyes, Rivas, Rodriguez, Rubio, Santiago, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Voepel, Waldron, Weber, Wood, Rendon
Noes: Arambula, Baker, Caballero, Gray, Lackey, Levine, Maienschein, McCarty, Melendez, Mullin, Obernolte, Quirk-Silva, Salas, Steinorth
No Votes Recorded: Acosta, Bloom, Bonta, Cervantes, Chávez, Cunningham, Fong, Gabriel, Gallagher, Cristina Garcia, Grayson, Kalra, Kamlager-Dove, Kiley, Limón, Mathis, Patterson

 

08/31/18 (PASS) Senate Floor 29 4 7 Conference Report SB901 Dodd et al.
Ayes: Allen, Anderson, Atkins, Beall, Bradford, Cannella, De León, Delgado, Dodd, Galgiani, Glazer, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mitchell, Monning, Moorlach, Nielsen, Pan, Portantino, Roth, Skinner, Stern, Wieckowski, Wiener
Noes: Gaines, Hill, Vidak, Wilk
No Votes Recorded: Bates, Berryhill, Chang, Fuller, Morrell, Nguyen, Stone

1 COMMENT

  1. I like the “defensible space” responsibility as this puts the cause of a fire spreading on the property owners and not back on me the ratepayer, if the utility is found to be the cause of the fire. Unfortunately, I do not believe this bill properly addresses this major cause of fire spreading.

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