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SB-209 Wildfire: California Wildfire Warning Center: weather monitoring.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/04/2019 09:00 PM
SB209:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 209


Introduced by Senator Dodd

February 04, 2019


An act to add Chapter 7.1 (commencing with Section 8669) to Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, and to add Section 8386.3 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to wildfires.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 209, as introduced, Dodd. Wildfire: California Wildfire Warning Center: weather monitoring.
Existing law provides that the state has long recognized its responsibility to mitigate the effects of natural, manmade, or war-caused emergencies that result in conditions of disaster or in extreme peril to life, property, and the resources of the state, and generally to protect the health and safety and preserve the lives and property of the people of the state.
This bill would establish in the state government the California Wildfire Warning Center (center). The center would be comprised of representatives from the Public Utilities Commission, the Office of Emergency Services, and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, as provided. The center would have various responsibilities relating to fire-threat weather conditions, including overseeing the development and deployment of a statewide network of automated weather and environmental stations designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena that contribute to increased wildfire risk, including a statewide fire weather forecasting, monitoring, and threat assessment system.
The California Constitution establishes the Public Utilities Commission, authorizes the commission to establish rules for all public utilities, subject to control by the Legislature, and authorizes the Legislature, unlimited by the other provisions of the California Constitution, to confer additional authority and jurisdiction upon the commission that is cognate and germane to the regulation of public utilities. The Public Utilities Act provides the commission with broad authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations. Under existing law, a violation of the Public Utilities Act or any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.
Existing law requires each electrical corporation 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 and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the commission for review and approval, as provided.
This bill would require an electrical corporation to deploy at least one weather monitoring station, as approved by the center, for every circuit in a high fire threat district, as provided. Because a violation of this provision by an electrical corporation would be a crime, 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.

 Chapter 7.1 (commencing with Section 8669) is added to Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to read:
CHAPTER  7.1. The California Wildfire Warning Center

8669.
 The California Wildfire Warning Center is hereby established in the state government.

8669.1.
 For purposes of this chapter, the following terms apply:
(a) “Center” shall mean the California Wildfire Warning Center.
(b) “Mesonet deployment plan” shall mean a network of automated weather and environmental monitoring stations designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena.

8669.2.
 The center shall be comprised of six representatives, as follows:
(a) Two representatives from the Public Utilities Commission, appointed by the president of the commission.
(b) Two representatives from the Office of Emergency Services, appointed by the director of the office.
(c) Two representatives from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection appointed by the director of the department.

8669.3.
 The center shall be responsible for all of the following duties:
(a) Ongoing monitoring of fire-weather and threat conditions as well as ongoing improvement of fire-weather forecasting models.
(b) Receiving, coordinating, and verifying information pertaining to fire threat conditions, utility proactive deenergization of power lines, and active fire events.
(c) (1) Overseeing the development and deployment of a statewide network of automated weather and environmental stations designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena that contribute to increased wildfire risk, including a statewide fire weather forecasting, monitoring, and threat assessment system.
(2) Overseeing the development and deployment of technical requirements, including calibration and maintenance of weather monitoring station instruments.
(d) (1) Working with electrical corporations to adopt center approved weather monitoring equipment.
(2) Overseeing the development and deployment of a statewide mesonet deployment plan to address high fire threat districts that are not served by an electrical corporation.
(e) Overseeing the development of a validated Fire-Threat Potential Index and ensuring that every geographic area in California is covered by a Fire-Threat Potential Index. The index shall be transparent and subject to revision and improvement as determined by the center.

SEC. 2.

 Section 8386.3 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

8386.3.
 An electrical corporation shall deploy at least one weather monitoring station, as approved by the California Wildfire Warning Center, pursuant to Section 8669.3 of the Government Code, for every circuit in a high fire threat district, as determined by the commission pursuant to its rulemaking authority.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only 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.