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AB-868 Electrical corporations, electrical cooperatives, local publicly owned electric utilities: wildfire mitigation plans. (2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/20/2019 09:00 PM
AB868:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 868


Introduced by Assembly Member Bigelow

February 20, 2019


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


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 868, as introduced, Bigelow. Electrical corporations, electrical cooperatives, local publicly owned electric utilities: wildfire mitigation plans.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, while local publicly owned electric utilities, as defined, are under the direction of their governing boards. Existing law provides that electrical cooperatives are subject to the regulatory authority of the commission pursuant to the Public Utilities Act, except as specified.
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, local publicly owned electric utility, and electrical cooperative to annually prepare a wildfire mitigation plan.
Existing law requires that a wildfire mitigation plan of an electrical corporation include, and that a wildfire mitigation plan of a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative consider, protocols for disabling reclosers and deenergizing portions of the electrical distribution system that consider the associated impacts on public safety, as well as protocols related to mitigating the public safety impacts of those protocols, including impacts on critical first responders and on health and communications infrastructure.
This bill would provide that the consideration of public safety impacts of the protocols for disabling reclosers and deenergizing portions of the electrical distribution system also include impacts on water and waste water.
Existing law requires that a wildfire mitigation plan of an electrical corporation include, and that a wildfire mitigation plan of a local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative consider, appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying a customer who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines. Existing law requires that the procedures consider the need to notify, as a priority, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure.
This bill would require that the procedures also consider the need to notify, as a priority, water agencies and wastewater utilities.
By requiring local publicly owned electric utilities to adopt new elements in their wildfire mitigation plans, 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 a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 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 to the commission for review and approval, according to a schedule established by the commission, which may allow for the staggering of compliance periods for each electrical corporation. 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:
(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 well as protocols related to mitigating the public safety impacts of those protocols, including impacts on critical first responders and on health health, water, waste water, and communication infrastructure.
(7) Appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying a customer who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines. The procedures shall consider th need the the need to notify, as a priority, critical first responders, health care facilities, water agencies, wastewater utilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure.
(8) Plans for vegetation management.
(9) Plans for inspections of the electrical corporation’s electrical infrastructure.
(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 Safety Model Assessment Proceeding and 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.
(11) A description of how the plan accounts for the wildfire risk identified in the electrical corporation’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Phase filing.
(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.
(13) A showing that the utility has an 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 utility.
(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.
(15) A methodology for identifying and presenting enterprise-wide safety risk and wildfire-related risk that is consistent with the methodology used by other electrical corporations unless the commission determines otherwise.
(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.
(17) A statement of how the electrical corporation will restore service after a wildfire.
(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 utility representatives, and emergency communications.
(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.
(20) Any other information that the commission may require.
(d) The 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. 2.

 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 wildfire posed by those electrical lines and equipment.
(b) (1) The local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall, before January 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, prepare a wildfire mitigation plan.
(2) The wildfire mitigation plan shall consider as necessary, at minimum, all of the following:
(A) An accounting of the responsibilities of persons responsible for executing the plan.
(B) The objectives of the wildfire mitigation plan.
(C) A description of the preventive strategies and programs to be adopted by the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative to minimize the risk of its electrical lines and equipment causing catastrophic wildfires, including consideration of dynamic climate change risks.
(D) A description of the metrics the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative plans to use to evaluate the wildfire mitigation plan’s performance and the assumptions that underlie the use of those metrics.
(E) A discussion of how the application of previously identified metrics to previous wildfire mitigation plan performances has informed the wildfire mitigation plan.
(F) Protocols for disabling reclosers and deenergizing portions of the electrical distribution system that consider the associated impacts on public safety, as well as protocols related to mitigating the public safety impacts of those protocols, including impacts on critical first responders and on health health, water, waste water, and communication infrastructure.
(G) 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, water agencies, wastewater utilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure.
(H) Plans for vegetation management.
(I) Plans for inspections of the local publicly owned electric utility’s or electrical cooperative’s electrical infrastructure.
(J) A list that identifies, describes, and prioritizes all wildfire risks, and drivers for those risks, throughout the local publicly owned electric utility’s or electrical cooperative’s service territory. The list shall include, but not be limited to, both of the following:
(i) Risks and risk drivers associated with design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the local publicly owned electric utility’s or electrical cooperative’s equipment and facilities.
(ii) Particular risks and risk drivers associated with topographic and climatological risk factors throughout the different parts of the local publicly owned electric utility’s or electrical cooperative’s service territory.
(K) Identification of any geographic area in the local publicly owned electric utility’s or electrical cooperative’s service territory that is a higher wildfire threat than is identified in a commission fire threat map, and identification of where the commission should expand a high fire threat district based on new information or changes to the environment.
(L) A methodology for identifying and presenting enterprisewide safety risk and wildfire-related risk.
(M) A statement of how the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative will restore service after a wildfire.
(N) A description of the processes and procedures the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall use to do all of the following:
(i) Monitor and audit the implementation of the wildfire mitigation plan.
(ii) Identify any deficiencies in the wildfire mitigation plan or its implementation, and correct those deficiencies.
(iii) Monitor and audit the effectiveness of electrical line and equipment inspections, including inspections performed by contractors, that are carried out under the plan, other applicable statutes, or commission rules.
(3) The local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall present each wildfire mitigation plan in an appropriately noticed public meeting. The local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall accept comments on its wildfire mitigation plan from the public, other local and state agencies, and interested parties, and shall verify that the wildfire mitigation plan complies with all applicable rules, regulations, and standards, as appropriate.
(c) The local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative shall contract with a qualified independent evaluator with experience in assessing the safe operation of electrical infrastructure to review and assess the comprehensiveness of its wildfire mitigation plan. The independent evaluator shall issue a report that shall be made available on the Internet Web site internet website of the local publicly owned electric utility or electrical cooperative, and shall present the report at a public meeting of the local publicly owned electric utility’s or electrical cooperative’s governing board.

SEC. 3.

 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, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.