Senator Dodd’s Utilities Disaster Bill Approved by Senate
SACRAMENTO – A bill from Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help reduce the risk of devastating wildfires by requiring electric utility companies to upgrade infrastructure, hardening the grid to be more resistant to extreme weather and bringing it into compliance with new safety standards, was approved by the Senate Wednesday in a bipartisan vote.
Senate Bill 1088 comes in response to the historic Wine Country wildfires in October that caused more than $10 billion in damage and killed more than 40 people. Investigators found similar fires elsewhere in the state were caused by fallen or damaged power lines.
“If the utilities had safety, reliability and resilience plans in place last year we may have been able to avoid these catastrophic fires,” Senator Dodd said. “Let’s not wait for the next disaster to act.”
SB 1088 would require the Office of Emergency Services in conjunction with the California Public Utilities Commission and Cal Fire to establish standards to strengthen infrastructure. Utilities would be required to file plans with the commission to spell how they will comply.
Amendments have been made to remove previous opposition from distributed energy resource firms. Other changes clarify that utilities cannot implement plans until they are approved by the commission. Any changes to utilities rates must also be approved by the commission.
“In a world of dramatic climate change, where wildfire risk threatens all year long, and where development is pushing further into the hinterlands, we must require utilities to meet their responsibility to proactively invest in their systems to minimize the possibility of igniting yet another devastating fire event,” Dodd said.
Senate Bill 1088 passed by a vote of 30-1. It moves next to the Assembly.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd