Governor Signs Senator Dodd’s Wildfire Safety Bill
SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation today from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that will prevent future firestorms like those that have become a staple of California’s year-round wildfire season while protecting electric utility ratepayers from bearing unfair recovery and improvement costs.
“This new law is the most comprehensive wildfire prevention and safety package the state has passed in decades,” said Sen. Dodd said. “It will help prevent further loss of life and property while ensuring ratepayers aren’t left holding the bag. By enacting this new law we’ve laid a solid base to build on as California continues adapting to the ‘new normal’ caused by climate change.”
Senate Bill 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 by authorizing the use of ratepayer protection bonds for utilities.
“Wildfires in California aren’t going away, and we have to do everything possible to prevent them. This bill is complex and requires investment – but it’s absolutely necessary,” Gov. Brown said.
The legislation won bipartisan Assembly and Senate support. Backers hail from a broad cross-section of the state including firefighters, wildfire victims and environmentalists. Among the supporters are the Nature Conservancy, California Labor Federation, Consumer Attorneys of California, California Professional Firefighters, California Fire Chiefs Association, California Association of Counties and the Wine Country fire victims group, “Up from the Ashes.”
What others said about the passage of SB 901:
“I am very appreciative of Gov. Brown for signing this bill,” said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner, who testified in support of SB 901. “This is a huge step forward for all of California. Having the ability to pre-positioned fire resources for known events across the state will absolutely create safer communities.”
“Those of us who were the victims of last year's deadly fires found a measure of relief with Gov. Brown’s signing of SB 901, which protects victims and ratepayers, helps prevent future fires and ensures that PG&E and the state's other investor-owned utilities invest in safety and are held accountable when they do damage,” said Patrick McCallum, who lost his Santa Rosa home in the 2017 Tubbs fire and leads Up from the Ashes.
“The Senate worked diligently this year to find commonsense solutions to wildfires that have now become a regular feature of life in California,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego. “Of particular significance is SB 901 which prevents future catastrophic wildfires across the state while protecting utility ratepayers from unfairly bearing the costs of wildfire impacts. I thank my colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly for the diligence in tackling this issue. And I thank Gov. Brown for his engagement throughout the process.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.