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SB-1088 Electrical and gas corporations: safety and resilience plans.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 02/12/2018 09:00 PM


Senate Bill No. 1088

Introduced by Senator Dodd

February 12, 2018

An act to add Section 768.7 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to energy.


SB 1088, as introduced, Dodd. Electrical and gas corporations: safety and resilience plans.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations and gas corporations. Existing law authorizes the commission, after a hearing, to require every public utility to construct, maintain, and operate its line, plant, system, equipment, apparatus, tracks, and premises in a manner so as to promote and safeguard the health and safety of its employees, passengers, customers, and the public. Existing law requires the commission to establish standards for disaster and emergency preparedness plans, as specified, and requires an electrical corporation to develop, adopt, and update an emergency and disaster preparedness plan, as specified. Existing law authorizes every city, county, or city and county within an electrical corporation’s service area to designate a point of contact for the electrical corporation to consult with on emergency and disaster preparedness plans.
This bill would make legislative findings and declarations relative to the need for, and adoption of, safety and resilience plans by electrical and gas corporations, and the approval and enforcement of those plans by the commission, and would state the intent of the Legislature to enact later legislation to implement those findings and declarations.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

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


 Section 768.7 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The effects of climate change are happening now and will continue to increase both around the world and in California.
(2) There will be more frequent and increasingly severe storms, floods, mudslides, and wildfires.
(3) Emissions of greenhouse gases from wildfires undermine California’s goals to reduce those emissions. The amount of emissions of greenhouse gases from the 2017 wildfires was estimated to be nearly as much as the total amount of 2017 emissions from electrical generation.
(4) The electrical and gas transmission and distribution systems can be the cause of fires which, because of climate change, can be much more severe.
(5) The electrical and natural gas transmission and distribution systems can be impacted by storms, floods, mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, and other major events. These impacts can, and have, caused loss of life, tremendous property damage, and damage to local economies.
(6) California is overdue for a major earthquake.
(7) Natural disasters can cause vast economic damage. The North Bay suffered major economic impacts to businesses and many jobs were lost as a result of the 2017 wildfires.
(8) Failure to prepare for the effects of climate change would adversely affect the credit rating of California and local jurisdictions.
(9) Preventing or mitigating damage from storms, floods, mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, and other major events is much safer for life and property, better for local economies, and far less expensive than emergency repair and reconstruction.
(10) Responding to storms, floods, mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, and other major events requires a substantial, well-trained local utility workforce. After the 2017 North Bay wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric Company utilized 4,300 employees to quickly repair and restore utility service to its customers. The commission should require that each electrical and gas corporation have a sufficiently sized and trained workforce to respond quickly to major events.
(11) The commission has failed to establish adequate standards to reduce the risk of wildfires caused by utility equipment and to make electrical and gas corporations’ equipment more resilient and resistant to damage.
(12) The commission should establish wildfire risk reduction and mitigation standards including standards for disabling reclosers and deenergizing electrical lines. All standards should meet or exceed industry best practices. Disabling reclosers and deenergizing electrical lines can cause impacts to fire and police response, the availability of water, hospitals, schools, evacuation centers, and other critical facilities. The commission should require electrical corporations to construct, operate, and maintain microgrids so that critical facilities do not lose electrical service in the event of major events. The commission shall not rely on unregulated entities in lieu of public utilities to provide electrical safety or reliability.
(13) Every other year, the commission should require each electrical corporation and each gas corporation to prepare and submit its utility safety and resilience plan for review and approval. Each plan should include all relevant standards and practices to prevent and mitigate risk from storms, floods, mudslides, wildfires, earthquakes, and other major events, and measures to comply with those standards and practices including investment and operation plans, utility microgrids, and workforce sizing and training practices. These safety and resilience plans should incorporate the disaster and emergency preparedness standards and plans prepared pursuant to Section 768.6. The plans should include a budget for all capital costs, and operations and maintenance expenses, including insurance levels and costs, needed to implement the plan. The commission should review the plans in a single proceeding for all energy utilities and either approve or approve with modifications each plan, including authorizing the revenue requirements to implement the plans. Any revenue requirement authorized in this proceeding should not also be eligible for recovery in any other proceeding. After the proceeding in which the plans are initially reviewed and approved, each subsequent proceeding under this paragraph should review each energy utility’s compliance with its approved plan along with a review of costs of any repair and restoration for catastrophic events.
(14) Failure of an energy utility to substantially comply with an approved plan should result in shareholders of the utility paying penalties. Penalties should be tiered based on the severity of the noncompliance and should credit self-reporting of violations. Substantial compliance with an approved plan should mean that the utility acted reasonably and prudently.
(15) Safety and reliability should be the first priority in all commission decisions.
(16) The Office of the Safety Advocate should participate in all proceedings authorized by this section.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to enact later Legislation to implement the findings and declarations of subdivision (a).