Following the announcement by Cal Fire today that investigators determined the cause of 12 wildfires in Northern California to be related to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. equipment, Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, issued the following statement:
“It’s disappointing and deeply concerning that alleged violations of state law led to devastating fires across my district,” Senator Dodd said. “I’m calling on PG&E, utilities across the state and the Public Utilities Commission to step up and ensure they are meeting their legal obligations to maintain power lines in a safe manner. It’s inexcusable and it can’t be allowed to happen again. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to develop new standards and oversight for utilities.”
Dodd’s proposals, Senate bills 901 and 1088, were approved in the Senate and are pending before Assembly committees.
SB 901 requires 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. It also requires utilities to improve the way they use reclosers. Among other things, investigators found the Pythian fire started when PG&E re-energized a fallen line.
SB 1088 builds a framework for strengthening utility infrastructure to prevent future catastrophes such as wildfires.
According to Cal Fire, more than 170 fires broke out across Northern California in early October, charring more than 245,000 acres, destroying thousands of homes and killing 44 people.
Cal Fire’s investigation determined fires in Butte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino Napa and Sonoma counties were caused by electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles.
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of other fires, including the Tubbs fire in Sonoma County.
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
Attached: Cal Fire press release