Bill Text

Bill Information

PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

SB-901 Electrical corporations: local publicly owned electric utilities: electrical cooperatives: wildfire mitigation plans and measures.(2017-2018)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 07/02/2018 11:30 AM
SB901:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  July 02, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 07, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  May 01, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  April 10, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  March 22, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 901


Introduced by Senator Dodd
(Coauthors: Senators Hill, McGuire, Moorlach, Skinner, and Wiener)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Acosta, Levine, Rodriguez, and Wood)

January 16, 2018


An act to amend Sections 8386 and 8387 of the Public Utilities Code, relating to public utilities.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 901, as amended, Dodd. Electrical corporations: local publicly owned electric utilities: electrical cooperatives: wildfire mitigation plans and measures.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, while local publicly owned electric utilities and electrical cooperatives are under the direction of their governing boards. Existing law requires each electrical corporation, local publicly owned electric utility, and electrical cooperative to 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. Existing law requires each electrical corporation to annually prepare a wildfire mitigation plan and to submit its plan to the commission for review, as specified. Existing law requires the commission to review and comment on the submitted plan, as specified. Existing law requires the governing board of a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to determine whether any portion of the geographical area where the utility’s overhead electrical lines and equipment are located has a significant risk of catastrophic wildfire resulting from those electrical lines and equipment and, if so, requires the utility, at an interval determined by its board, to present to its board for approval those wildfire mitigation measures the utility intends to undertake to minimize the risk of its overhead electrical lines and equipment causing a catastrophic wildfire.
This bill would require a wildfire mitigation plan prepared by an electrical corporation, and wildfire mitigation measures prepared by a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative, to include a description of the factors the preparing entity uses to determine when it may be necessary to deenergize its electrical lines and deactivate its reclosers, including meteorological and fire threat conditions, and an assessment of risks to the health and welfare of customers who may lose power. The bill would also require a wildfire mitigation plan and wildfire mitigation measures to include appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying customers, including, as a priority, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure, who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines.
Under existing law, a violation of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.
Because a violation of these provisions by an electrical corporation would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Additionally, by placing additional duties upon local publicly owned electric utilities, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for specified reasons.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(a) The effects of climate change are happening now and will continue to increase both around the world and in California.
(b) Climate change is increasingly causing unprecedented and rare weather events and is creating a more dangerous landscape and vegetation conditions throughout California that are susceptible to wildfire.
(c) These changing conditions have significantly increased both the likelihood and severity of wildfires in California.
(d) Climate change affects all Californians, especially low-income and vulnerable communities.
(e) Eight of the 20 most destructive fires in California’s history have occurred since 2015, with five occurring in 2017 alone.
(f) Greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires undermine California’s plans to reduce emissions. The emissions from the 2017 wildfires were estimated to be nearly as much as the total 2017 emissions from electric generation.
(g) The electric and gas transmission and distribution systems can be the cause of fires, which, because of climate change, can be much more severe.
(h) Catastrophic storms, floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, and other major events cause loss of life, tremendous property damage, public health impacts, environmental degradation, and damage to local economies. These events can also adversely impact electrical and gas transmission and distribution systems.
(i) Natural disasters can cause vast economic damage. To mitigate the economic impacts of catastrophic events on society as a whole, it is important to explore sources of funding that can be available to compensate for losses.
(j) Executive Order B-30-15 addresses the need for climate adaptation by incorporating climate change impacts into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan, updating the state’s climate adaptation strategy by identifying how climate change will affect infrastructure and industry and what actions can be taken to reduce the risks posed by climate change, factoring climate change into state agencies’ planning and investment decisions, and implementing measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
(k) Chapter 608 of the Statutes of 2015 requires that cities and counties address climate adaptation and resilience strategies in local planning.
(l) Chapter 606 of the Statutes of 2015 establishes the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program to be administered by the Office of Planning and Research to coordinate regional and local efforts with state climate adaptation strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
(m) Chapter 603 of the Statutes of 2015 requires the Natural Resources Agency to update the state’s climate adaptation strategy every three years to address vulnerabilities to climate change by sector, including the energy sector, and requires state agencies to maximize promoting the use of the climate adaptation strategy to inform planning decisions and ensure that state investments consider climate change impacts.
(n) Chapter 580 of the Statutes of 2016 requires state agencies to take into account the impacts of climate change when planning, designing, building, operating, maintaining, and investing in state infrastructure.
(o) Preventing or mitigating property and infrastructure damage and injury from catastrophic storms, floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, and other major events is much safer, better for local economies, and far less expensive than emergency repair and reconstruction.
(p) Responding to catastrophic storms, floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, and other major events requires a substantial, well-trained local utility workforce. After the 2017 North Bay wildfires, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company utilized 4,300 employees to quickly repair and restore utility service to its customers. The Public Utilities Commission should require each electrical and gas corporation to have a sufficiently sized and trained workforce available, including employees of other utilities pursuant to mutual aid agreements and employees of entities that have entered into contracts with utilities, to quickly respond to major events.
(q) The Public Utilities Commission should establish fire risk reduction and mitigation standards, including protocols for disabling reclosers and deenergizing lines. All protocols should meet or exceed industry best practices. Disabling reclosers and deenergizing lines can cause impacts to fire and police response, the availability of water, hospitals, schools, evacuation centers, and other critical facilities.
(r) Electric reliability is a critical component of public safety.
(s) The Public Utilities Commission should require electrical corporations to maintain their systems to prevent damage from dynamic risks of catastrophic storms, floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, and other major events.
(t) The Public Utilities Commission should require electrical corporations to evaluate and incorporate technological solutions, including microgrids, where needed to maintain electrical service for critical facilities during and after catastrophic storms, floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, and other major events.
(u) The transmission of electricity to customers is a vital public service and electric utilities are under a general legal obligation to provide for the transmission of electricity to customers in their respective service territories in all areas of the state.
(v) Even when utilities operate their systems reasonably and prudently, there is an increasing risk of catastrophic losses given the changing conditions in California.
(w) Due to these factors, California’s electric utilities face potentially enormous legal exposure even if the utility is not at fault or if the damages are compounded by extreme weather events or other circumstances.
(x) Current legal standards should be refined to prospectively allow the courts to determine the liability of electric utilities when they have acted reasonably in installing, maintaining, and operating their transmission systems.
(y) Electrical corporations should be allowed to contract with providers of distributed energy resources so long as the providers meet insurance requirements set by the Public Utilities Commission for direct damages caused by the failure of distributed energy resources equipment.
(z) Electrical corporations and gas corporations should file with the Public Utilities Commission safety, reliability, and resiliency plans, which should address all relevant rules, regulations, standards, and practices to prevent and mitigate risk from catastrophic storms, floods, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, and other major events that affect the safety and reliability of the electrical and gas system. Safety and reliability should be the highest priority in all commission decisions.
(aa) The Public Utilities Commission has authority to impose penalties on an electrical corporation or gas corporation that fails to comply with an approved plan. Any penalties should be paid exclusively by shareholders of the electrical corporation or gas corporation.
(ab) The Office of the Safety Advocate should participate in all proceedings authorized by Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 2899) of Part 2 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code.
(ac) Electrical corporations and gas corporations should notify their customers, including local governments and agencies, of proceedings authorized by the Utility Infrastructure, Safety, Reliability, and Accountability Act (Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 2899) of Part 2 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code).
(ad) The commission should encourage public comment at hearings for proceedings authorized by the Utility Infrastructure, Safety, Reliability, and Accountability Act (Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 2899) of Part 2 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code).
(ae) Consistent with its ratepayer protection duties pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 451) of Chapter 3 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code, the commission should ensure the costs associated with the implementation of Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 2899) of Part 2 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code are just and reasonable for ratepayers while protecting public safety and the reliability of electric services.

SECTION 1.SEC. 2.

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

8386.
 (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 for the next compliance period to the commission for review. The wildfire mitigation plan shall include all of the following:
(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.
(4) (A) A description of the factors the electrical corporation uses to determine when it may be necessary to deenergize its electrical lines and deactivate its reclosers. The factors shall include, but not be limited to, meteorological and fire threat conditions.
(B) An assessment of risks to the health and welfare of customers who may loser power, including the impact on water supply resulting from deenergizing power lines.
(5) Appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying a customer who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines. The procedures shall consider the need to notify, as a priority, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure.
(6) 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.
(7) A discussion of how the application of previously identified metrics to previous plan performances has informed the plan.
(8) A description of the processes and procedures the electrical corporation will use to do 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.
(9) Any other information that the commission may require.
(c) The commission shall act expeditiously, but no later than 30 days before the beginning of the compliance period, to review and comment on the electrical corporation’s wildfire mitigation plan.
(d) The commission shall provide the electrical corporation with an opportunity to amend a wildfire mitigation plan in response to commission comments within 30 days.
(e) The commission shall conduct or contract for audits to determine if an electrical corporation is satisfactorily complying with its wildfire mitigation plan.
(f) The commission may contract with an independent third party to evaluate wildfire mitigation plans or to conduct audits and inspections authorized by this section, and may require electrical corporations to reimburse any related expenses.

SEC. 2.SEC. 3.

 Section 8387 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

8387.
 (a) Each local publicly owned electric utility and electrical cooperative 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) The governing board of the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall determine, based on historical fire data and local conditions, and in consultation with the fire departments or other entities responsible for control of wildfires within the geographical area where the utility’s overhead electrical lines and equipment are located, whether any portion of that geographical area has a significant risk of catastrophic wildfire resulting from those electrical lines and equipment.
(c) (1) If, pursuant to subdivision (b), the governing board determines that there is a significant risk of catastrophic wildfire resulting from the utility’s electrical lines and equipment, the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall, at an interval determined by the board, present to the board for its approval those wildfire mitigation measures the utility intends to undertake to minimize the risk of its overhead electrical lines and equipment causing a catastrophic wildfire.
(2) The wildfire mitigation measures shall include a description of the factors the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall use to determine when it may be necessary to deenergize its electrical lines and deactivate its reclosers. The factors shall include, but not be limited to, meteorological and fire threat conditions.
(3) The wildfire mitigation measures shall include an assessment of risks to the health and welfare of customers who may lose power, including the impact on water supply resulting from deenergizing power lines.
(4) The wildfire mitigation measures shall also include appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying a customer who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines. The procedures shall consider the need to notify, as a priority, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure.
(d) A fire prevention plan prepared by the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative, submitted to and approved by a federal agency as a license condition pursuant to subsection (e) of Section 4 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 797(e)) may, at the discretion of the governing board, be deemed to meet the requirements of this chapter for those areas covered by the fire prevention plan.

SEC. 3.SEC. 4.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act or because costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.