Today's Law As Amended

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AB-868 Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans. (2019-2020)

As Amends the Law Today


 Section 8385 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

 (a) For purposes of this chapter, the following shall apply:
(1) “Compliance period” means a period of approximately one year.
(2) “Electrical cooperative” has the same meaning as defined in Section 2776.
(3) “Protocol” means the set of procedures and rules governing what actions are to be taken in particular circumstances.
(b) The commission shall supervise an electrical corporation’s compliance with the requirements of this chapter pursuant to the Public Utilities Act (Part 1 (commencing with Section 201) of Division 1). Nothing in this chapter affects the commission’s authority or jurisdiction over an electrical cooperative or local publicly owned electrical corporation. electric utility. 

SEC. 2.

 Section 8386 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

 (a) Each electrical corporation shall construct, maintain, and operate its electrical lines and equipment in a manner that will minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire posed by those electrical lines and equipment.
(b) Each electrical corporation shall annually prepare and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the Wildfire Safety Division  commission  for review and approval. In calendar year 2020, and thereafter, the plan shall cover at least a three-year period. The division shall establish a schedule for the submission of subsequent comprehensive wildfire mitigation plans,  approval, according to a schedule established by the commission,  which may allow for the staggering of compliance periods for each electrical corporation. In its discretion, the division may allow the annual submissions to be updates to the last approved comprehensive wildfire mitigation plan; provided, that each electrical corporation shall submit a comprehensive wildfire mitigation plan at least once every three years. The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall consult with the commission on the review of each wildfire mitigation plan. Prior to approval, the commission may require modifications of the plans. Following approval, the commission shall oversee compliance with the plans pursuant to subdivision (h). 
(c) The wildfire mitigation plan shall include all of the following: include: 
(1) An accounting of the responsibilities of persons responsible for executing the plan.
(2) The objectives of the plan.
(3) A description of the preventive strategies and programs to be adopted by the electrical corporation to minimize the risk of its electrical lines and equipment causing catastrophic wildfires, including consideration of dynamic climate change risks.
(4) A description of the metrics the electrical corporation plans to use to evaluate the plan’s performance and the assumptions that underlie the use of those metrics.
(5) A discussion of how the application of previously identified metrics to previous plan performances has informed the plan.
(6) Protocols for disabling reclosers and deenergizing portions of the electrical distribution system that consider the associated impacts on public safety. As part of these protocols, each electrical corporation shall include  safety, as well as  protocols related to mitigating the public safety impacts of disabling reclosers and deenergizing portions of the electrical distribution system that consider the impacts on all of the following: those protocols, consistent with Section 8390. 
(A) Critical first responders.
(B) Health and communication infrastructure.
(C) Customers who receive medical baseline allowances pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 739. The electrical corporation may deploy backup electrical resources or provide financial assistance for backup electrical resources to a customer receiving a medical baseline allowance for a customer who meets all of the following requirements:
(i) The customer relies on life-support equipment that operates on electricity to sustain life.
(ii) The customer demonstrates financial need, including through enrollment in the California Alternate Rates for Energy program created pursuant to Section 739.1.
(iii) The customer is not eligible for backup electrical resources provided through medical services, medical insurance, or community resources.
(D) Subparagraph (C) shall not be construed as preventing an electrical corporation from deploying backup electrical resources or providing financial assistance for backup electrical resources under any other authority.
(7) Appropriate and feasible procedures methods  for notifying a customer who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines, including procedures for those customers receiving a medical baseline allowance as described in paragraph (6). The procedures shall direct notification to all public safety offices, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure with premises within the footprint of potential deenergization for a given event. consistent with Section 8390. 
(8) Plans for vegetation management.
(9) Plans for inspections of the electrical corporation’s electrical infrastructure.
(10) Protocols for the deenergization of the electrical corporation’s transmission infrastructure, for instances when the deenergization may impact customers who, or entities that, are dependent upon the infrastructure.
(11) (10)  A list that identifies, describes, and prioritizes all wildfire risks, and drivers for those risks, throughout the electrical corporation’s service territory, including all relevant wildfire risk and risk mitigation information that is part of the  Safety Model Assessment Proceeding and the  Risk Assessment Mitigation Phase filings. The list shall include, but not be limited to, both of the following:
(A) Risks and risk drivers associated with design, construction, operations, and maintenance of the electrical corporation’s equipment and facilities.
(B) Particular risks and risk drivers associated with topographic and climatological risk factors throughout the different parts of the electrical corporation’s service territory.
(12) (11)  A description of how the plan accounts for the wildfire risk identified in the electrical corporation’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Phase filing.
(13) (12)  A description of the actions the electrical corporation will take to ensure its system will achieve the highest level of safety, reliability, and resiliency, and to ensure that its system is prepared for a major event, including hardening and modernizing its infrastructure with improved engineering, system design, standards, equipment, and facilities, such as undergrounding, insulation of distribution wires, and pole replacement.
(14) A description of where and how the electrical corporation considered undergrounding electrical distribution lines within those areas of its service territory identified to have the highest wildfire risk in a commission fire threat map.
(15) (13)  A showing that the electrical corporation  utility  has an adequately adequate  sized and trained workforce to promptly restore service after a major event, taking into account employees of other utilities pursuant to mutual aid agreements and employees of entities that have entered into contracts with the electrical corporation. utility. 
(16) (14)  Identification of any geographic area in the electrical corporation’s service territory that is a higher wildfire threat than is currently identified in a commission fire threat map, and where the commission should consider expanding the high fire threat district based on new information or changes in the environment.
(17) (15)  A methodology for identifying and presenting enterprisewide enterprise-wide  safety risk and wildfire-related risk that is consistent with the methodology used by other electrical corporations unless the commission determines otherwise.
(18) (16)  A description of how the plan is consistent with the electrical corporation’s disaster and emergency preparedness plan prepared pursuant to Section 768.6, including both of the following:
(A) Plans to prepare for, and to restore service after, a wildfire, including workforce mobilization and prepositioning equipment and employees.
(B) Plans for community outreach and public awareness before, during, and after a wildfire, including language notification in English, Spanish, and the top three primary languages used in the state other than English or Spanish, as determined by the commission based on the United States Census data.
(19) (17)  A statement of how the electrical corporation will restore service after a wildfire.
(20) (18)  Protocols for compliance with requirements adopted by the commission regarding activities to support customers during and after a wildfire, outage reporting, support for low-income customers, billing adjustments, deposit waivers, extended payment plans, suspension of disconnection and nonpayment fees, repair processing and timing, access to electrical corporation  utility  representatives, and emergency communications.
(21) (19)  A description of the processes and procedures the electrical corporation will use to do all of the following:
(A) Monitor and audit the implementation of the plan.
(B) Identify any deficiencies in the plan or the plan’s implementation and correct those deficiencies.
(C) Monitor and audit the effectiveness of electrical line and equipment inspections, including inspections performed by contractors, carried out under the plan and other applicable statutes and commission rules.
(22) (20)  Any other information that the Wildfire Safety Division  commission  may require.
(d) The Wildfire Safety Division shall post all wildfire mitigation plans and annual updates on the commission’s internet website for no less than two months before the division’s decision regarding approval of the plan. The division shall  commission shall  accept comments on each plan from the public, other local and state agencies, and interested parties, and verify that the plan complies with all applicable rules, regulations, and standards, as appropriate.
(e) The commission shall approve each plan within three months of its submission, unless the commission makes a written determination, including reasons supporting the determination, that the three-month deadline cannot be met and issues an order extending the deadline. Each electrical corporation’s approved plan shall remain in effect until the commission approves the electrical corporation’s subsequent plan. At the time it approves each plan, the commission shall authorize the utility to establish a memorandum account to track costs incurred to implement the plan.
(f) The commission’s approval of a plan does not establish a defense to any enforcement action for a violation of a commission decision, order, or rule.
(g) The commission shall consider whether the cost of implementing each electrical corporation’s plan is just and reasonable in its general rate case application. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as a restriction or limitation on Article 1 (commencing with Section 451) of Chapter 3 of Part 1 of Division 1.
(h) The commission shall conduct an annual review of each electrical corporation’s compliance with its plan as follows:
(1) Three months after the end of an electrical corporation’s initial compliance period as established by the commission pursuant to subdivision (b), and annually thereafter, each electrical corporation shall file with the commission a report addressing its compliance with the plan during the prior calendar year.
(2) (A) Before March 1, 2021, and before each March 1 thereafter, the commission, in consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, shall make available a list of qualified independent evaluators with experience in assessing the safe operation of electrical infrastructure.
(B) (i) Each electrical corporation shall engage an independent evaluator listed pursuant to subparagraph (A) to review and assess the electrical corporation’s compliance with its plan. The engaged independent evaluator shall consult with, and operate under the direction of, the Safety and Enforcement Division of the commission. The independent evaluator shall issue a report on July 1 of each year in which a report required by paragraph (1) is filed. As a part of the independent evaluator’s report, the independent evaluator shall determine whether the electrical corporation failed to fund any activities included in its plan.
(ii) The commission shall consider the independent evaluator’s findings, but the independent evaluator’s findings are not binding on the commission, except as otherwise specified.
(iii) The independent evaluator’s findings shall be used by the commission to carry out its obligations under Article 1 (commencing with Section 451) of Chapter 3 of Part 1 of Division 1.
(iv) The independent evaluator’s findings shall not apply to events that occurred before the initial plan is approved for the electrical corporation.
(3) The commission shall authorize the electrical corporation to recover in rates the costs of the independent evaluator.
(4) The commission shall complete its compliance review within 18 months after the submission of the electrical corporation’s compliance report.
(i) An electrical corporation shall not divert revenues authorized to implement the plan to any activities or investments outside of the plan.
(j) Each electrical corporation shall establish a memorandum account to track costs incurred for fire risk mitigation that are not otherwise covered in the electrical corporation’s revenue requirements. The commission shall review the costs in the memorandum accounts and disallow recovery of those costs the commission deems unreasonable.

SEC. 3.

 Section 8390 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

 (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Deenergizing” means voluntarily stopping the transport of electricity over a segment of the electrical distribution system. “Deenergization” is the act of deenergizing.
(2) “Life-support equipment” has the same meaning as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 739.
(3) “Water suppliers” has the same meaning as defined in Section 1745 of the Water Code.
(b) Each electrical corporation that deenergizes portions of the distribution grid as a wildfire mitigation measure shall adopt protocols for when deenergization will be undertaken and for providing notice and other steps to be taken to minimize any adverse effects from deenergization. In developing the protocols, an electrical corporation shall consult with persons and institutions that are reasonably likely to be affected by a deenergization, including local schools, water suppliers, wastewater agencies, disability rights advocates, consumer groups, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, local government officials, local elected officials, hospitals, and communications providers.
(c) The protocol adopted for minimizing any adverse effects from deenergization shall include all of the following:
(1) A mechanism for customers to request to be notified in the event of a potential or anticipated deenergization by telephone or other voice communication, electronic mail, or text message.
(2) Reasonable steps to be taken to notify those residential and business customers that are likely to be affected by a deenergization of the potential or anticipated interruption in their electrical service. Reasonable steps may include notifying the local media, including alternative language media, local schools, disability rights advocates, community resource centers, consumer groups, local government officials, and local elected officials.
(3) Reasonable steps to specifically contact the following critical customers that may be affected by a deenergization to notify them of the potential or anticipated interruption in their electrical service:
(A) Water suppliers.
(B) Wastewater agencies.
(C) Fire departments.
(D) Law enforcement agencies.
(E) Hospitals, surgery centers, and blood banks.
(F) Voice communication providers.
(4) Reasonable steps to notify a residential subscriber who is receiving a higher medical baseline allocation pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 739.
(d) All notifications pursuant to subdivision (c) shall include information as to the means by which persons may keep abreast of the likelihood of deenergization, when any planned deenergization will commence, and when electrical service is likely to be restored.
(e) Each electrical corporation shall submit a report to the division of the commission responsible for utility safety within 10 business days after each deenergization event, as well as after high-threat events where notifications were provided of potential or anticipated deenergization, although no deenergization occurred. Reports to the division of the commission responsible for utility safety shall, at a minimum, include all of the following information:
(1) Whether the area subject to a deenergization or deenergization notification was within a commission-designated Tier 2 or Tier 3 High Fire Threat District.
(2) A list of those persons or entities notified pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (c) and the date and approximate time of the notification.
(3) Any known failure to notify persons pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (c), a description of the efforts made to contact them, and what steps, if any, the electrical corporation will undertake in the future to contact those persons.
(4) If the electrical corporation was not able to provide notice pursuant to subdivision (c) at least two hours prior to deenergization, an explanation as to why that level of advanced notification was not achieved.
(5) The number and nature of complaints received as a result of the deenergization event with a description of any claims that are filed against the electrical corporation because of the deenergization.
(6) A detailed description of the steps taken to restore electrical service, including a description of what inspections of the electrical corporation’s lines and equipment were undertaken before service was restored.
(7) The address of each community assistance location made available by the electrical corporation during a deenergization event, including a description of the location, such as whether it was in a building, a trailer, or other location, a description of the assistance available at each location, and the days and hours that it was open.
(f) An electrical corporation that deenergizes portions of the distribution grid as a wildfire mitigation measure shall maintain an internet website, or maintain a dedicated web page identified and accessible from its general internet website, that is devoted to public safety as it relates to the utility services provided by the electrical corporation. The internet website or web page shall do all of the following:
(1) Enable a subscriber to request to be notified of potential or anticipated deenergizations by telephone or other voice communication, electronic mail, or text message.
(2) Include a summary of the protocol adopted by the electrical corporation pursuant to this section.
(3) Prominently provide notice of any potential or anticipated deenergization, identifying the areas that may be affected and, in the event of a deenergization, the status of efforts to restore electrical service.
(4) Include a telephone number that customers may call if they have questions or concerns that relate to safety.
(5) Include notices of any public meetings either organized by the electrical corporation or in which the electrical corporation is a participant concerning safety issues as they may relate to services provided by the electrical corporation.