Sen. Dodd's Power Shutoff Protection Bill Clears Senate

Thursday, June 25, 2020

SACRAMENTO – The Senate today unanimously approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would aid people with disabilities and local governments during wildfire-related utility power shutoffs such as those last year from Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

“Thanks to my colleagues for supporting this bill, which will help our most vulnerable community members cope with any future outages while assisting local government,” Sen. Dodd said. “We know how disruptive these shutoffs are -- as well as the risks they pose. This bill will help minimize these events and make provisions for the public safety and financial problems they cause.”

Senate Bill 862 does three things. It expands existing law requiring utilities to provide for customers with access and functional needs before commencing a public safety power shutoff. It’s a provision that builds on SB 167 -- written by Sen. Dodd last year and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom – requiring utilities to assist people on life support equipment during shutoffs. Also, the bill makes clear that such de-energizations are eligible for emergency declarations, freeing financial assistance for local government under the Emergency Services Act. And it requires utilities to operate 24-hour community resource centers during any power shutoffs.

“I’d like to thank Sen. Dodd again for his fundamental leadership on SB 862,” said Supervisor Diane Dillon, chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors and a co-sponsor of SB 862. “While proven effective, PSPS events, and even the threat of one, can cause unique financial strain on counties and other local agencies. Ensuring that these agencies are subject to the Emergency Services Act allows them to be rightfully reimbursed after their required response to the event. With the increasing frequency of these events, and continued COVID-19 response, the passage of SB 862 is incredibly important.”

The bill is also sponsored by Disability Rights California and the California Association of Public Authorities for In-Home Supportive Services. It was approved by the full Senate in a 40 to 0 vote. SB 862 will be considered in the Assembly in July.

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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.

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