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Wildfire Protection Bills Clear Committee


Wildfire Protection Bills Clear Committee

A pair of bills advanced Tuesday from Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that will help protect people from wildfires sparked by power lines that are damaged in extreme weather.

The first, Senate Bill 901, requires utilities to adopt emergency shutoff plans to de-energize lines if they are at risk of falling down in high winds or other natural events. The second, Senate Bill 1088, builds a framework for strengthening utility infrastructure to prevent future catastrophes. Both cleared the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications committee with bipartisan support.

“We must do whatever it takes to save lives and prevent the kind of destruction we’ve seen throughout the state,” Senator Dodd said. “It’s absolutely critical that we take these important steps to avoid another disaster.”

SB 901 would require electric utilities to update their wildfire mitigation plans to include policies and procedures for determining if, when and where to temporarily de-energize a power line during harsh weather. The plans would be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission for review. The bill is co-authored by Senator Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assembly members Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, and Marc Levine, D-San Rafael.

SB 1088 requires the Office of Emergency Services and Public Utilities Commission to develop new standards to “harden” infrastructure to protect against damage during storms, floods, mudslides, wildfires and earthquakes. The plans would include strict compliance reviews to ensure the utilities properly implement the required safety, reliability and resilience measures.

“It is imperative that we build a more resilient and safe utilities infrastructure,” Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt said. “Last year’s fires underscored the need for these vital policy improvements.”

SB 901 moves to the Appropriations committee, while SB 1088 advances to the Governmental Organization committee.

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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