SACRAMENTO – The Legislature this week approved a wildfire-inspired proposal from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help low-income people who rely on life-support equipment to receive backup power during electric transmission line de-energization.
“Clearly, we must protect vulnerable people who rely on critical-care equipment as climate change drives up our fire risk,” Sen. Dodd said. “My bill says that before utilities can shut off the power to prevent an inferno, they must develop plans to ensure the health and safety of those who are most defenseless.”
Senate Bill 167 comes in response to plans to prevent wind-driven wildfires by power line de-energization. More than 150,000 critical care customers are served by the state’s three largest utilities. Many live in households with incomes 200% below the federal poverty level. SB 167 would require utilities to submit plans to the California Public Utilities Commission for supporting these low-income customers during temporary power shutoffs.
The bill cleared the Senate and Assembly with unanimous, bipartisan support and heads next to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a signature. It is backed by the California Fire Chiefs Association and Marin Clean Energy, among others.
“SB 167 is needed to ensure emergency back-up power is available to operate life-support systems for those citizens requiring such equipment during power outages,” said Russell Noack, who represents both the California Fire Chiefs Association and the Fire Districts Association of California.
It is one of seven wildfire-related bills introduced by Sen. Dodd this year. His legislation would protect elders from abandonment during emergencies, ensure fairness for those dealing with insurance agents, establish a statewide wildfire warning center, protect the state budget from unexpected emergency response costs and ensure the clearing of vegetation near utility lines and homes.
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/dodd.