Today's Law As Amended

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AB-235 Electrical corporations: recovery of catastrophic wildfire costs and expenses.(2019-2020)



SECTION 1.

 Section 451.1 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

451.1.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Covered wildfire” has the same meaning as defined in Section 1701.8.
(2) “Wildfire Fund” means the Wildfire Fund created pursuant to Section 3284.
(b) (a)   When determining  In  an application by an electrical corporation to recover costs and expenses arising from a covered wildfire, the commission shall catastrophic wildfire occurring on or after January 1, 2019, the commission may  allow cost recovery if the costs and expenses are just and reasonable. Costs and expenses arising from a covered wildfire are just and reasonable if the  reasonable, after consideration of the conduct of the utility. In evaluating the reasonableness of the costs and expenses, the commission shall consider the  conduct of the electrical corporation related to the ignition was consistent with actions that a reasonable utility would have undertaken in good faith under similar circumstances, at the relevant point in time, and based on the information available to the electrical corporation at the relevant point of time. Reasonable conduct  and relevant information submitted into the commission record, which may include, but  is not limited to the optimum practice, method, or act to the exclusion of others, but rather encompasses a spectrum of possible practices, methods, or acts consistent with utility system needs, the interest of the ratepayers, and the requirements of governmental agencies of competent jurisdiction. Costs and expenses in the application may be allocated for cost recovery in full or in part taking into account factors both within and beyond the utility’s control that may have exacerbated the costs and expenses, including humidity, temperature, and winds. to, all of the following: 
(c) (1)   An electrical corporation bears the burden to demonstrate, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that its conduct was reasonable pursuant to subdivision (b) unless it has a valid safety certification pursuant to Section 8389 for the time period in which the covered wildfire that is the subject of the application ignited. If  The nature and severity of the conduct of the electrical corporation and its officers, employees, contractors, and other entities with which  the electrical corporation has received a valid safety certification for the time period in which the covered wildfire ignited, an electrical corporation’s conduct shall be deemed to have been reasonable pursuant to subdivision (b) unless a party to the proceeding creates a serious doubt as to the reasonableness of the electrical corporation’s conduct. Once serious doubt has been raised, the electrical corporation has the burden of dispelling that doubt and proving the conduct to have been reasonable. forms a contractual relationship, including systemic corporate defects. 
(2) Whether the electrical corporation disregarded indicators of wildfire risk.
(3) Whether the electrical corporation failed to design its assets in a reasonable manner.
(4) Whether the electrical corporation failed to operate its assets in a reasonable manner.
(5) Whether the electrical corporation failed to maintain its assets in a reasonable manner.
(6) Whether the electrical corporation’s practices to monitor, predict, and anticipate wildfires, and to operate its facilities in a reasonable manner based on information gained from its monitoring and predicting of wildfires, were reasonable.
(7) The extent to which the costs and expenses were in part caused by circumstances beyond the electrical corporation’s control.
(8) Whether extreme climate conditions at the location of the wildfire’s ignition, including humidity, temperature, or winds occurring during the wildfire, contributed to the fire’s ignition or exacerbated the extent of the damages. The electrical corporation shall provide the commission with specific evidence and data demonstrating the impact of climate conditions on the severity of the wildfire.
(9) The electrical corporation’s compliance with regulations, laws, commission orders, and its wildfire mitigation plans prepared pursuant to Section 8386, including its history of compliance.
(10) Official findings of state, local, or federal government offices summarizing statutory, regulatory, or ordinance violations by any actor that contributed to the extent of the damages.
(11) Whether the costs and expenses were caused by a single violation or multiple violations of relevant rules.
(12) Other factors the commission finds necessary to evaluate the reasonableness of the costs and expenses, including factors traditionally relied upon by the commission in its decisions.
(d) (b)   If  Notwithstanding subdivision (a), when determining recovery by  an electrical corporation has drawn amounts from the Wildfire Fund for eligible claims for a covered wildfire, then the electrical corporation shall file an application to recover  for  costs and expenses pursuant to Section 1701.8 after it has paid substantially all third-party liability claims arising from the covered wildfire. arising from a catastrophic wildfire occurring on or after January 1, 2019, the commission may consider the electrical corporation’s financial status and determine the maximum amount the corporation can pay without harming ratepayers or materially impacting the electrical corporation’s ability to provide adequate and safe service. 
(e) (c)  Notwithstanding Section 451, this section shall direct the commission’s evaluation of applications for recovery of costs and expenses arising from a covered catastrophic  wildfire. This section shall not apply to any other applications for cost recovery.
(f) (d)  This section shall not affect any civil action, appeal, or other action or proceeding.
(g) This section shall become inoperative if Section 3292 becomes inoperative pursuant to subdivision (k) of that section and this section shall be repealed on the first January 1 more than three months after this section becomes inoperative. The commission shall notify the Secretary of State as to whether this section becomes inoperative and is repealed.