Lawmakers Approve Comprehensive Wildfire Safety Plan
SACRAMENTO -- Lawmakers approved a comprehensive wildfire safety plan tonight 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.”
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