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SB-247 Wildland fire prevention: vegetation management.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 08/12/2019 02:00 PM
SB247:v93#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  August 12, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  July 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  July 02, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 12, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  April 29, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  March 14, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 247


Introduced by Senator Dodd

February 11, 2019


An act to add Section 4742 to the Public Resources Code, relating to wildland fire prevention.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 247, as amended, Dodd. Wildland fire prevention: vegetation management.
Pursuant to existing law, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is responsible for fire protection in state responsibility areas and for the administration of the state's state’s private and public forests. Existing law grants the Public Utilities Commission regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations. Existing law authorizes the commission to fix the rates and charges for every public utility and requires that those rates and charges be just and reasonable. 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 and approval, as specified. Existing law requires that an electrical corporation’s wildfire mitigation plan include plans for vegetation management. Existing law requires the commission, at the time it approves each plan, to authorize the utility to establish a memorandum account to track costs incurred to implement the plan. Existing law requires the commission to oversee compliance with the approved plans.
Existing law requires the commission and the department to enter into a memorandum of understanding to cooperatively develop consistent approaches and share data related to fire prevention, safety, vegetation management, and energy distribution systems and to share results from various fire prevention activities, including relevant inspections and fire ignition data.
This bill would, on or after January 1, 2021, require an electrical corporation to notify the department after it completes all or a substantial portion of the vegetation management requirements in its wildfire mitigation plan. The bill would require the department, upon receiving notice from the electrical corporation, to promptly audit the work performed by, or on behalf of, the electrical corporation and to specify any failure of the electrical corporation to fully comply with the vegetation management requirements in its wildfire mitigation plan. The bill would provide that an electrical corporation would have a reasonable time to correct and eliminate any deficiency specified in the audit. The bill would require the department, after the time to correct and eliminate any deficiency specified in the audit expires, and no less than annually, to report to the electrical corporation and the Wildfire Safety Division of the commission specifically describing any failure of the electrical corporation to substantially comply with the vegetation management requirements in its wildfire mitigation plan. The bill would require, beginning July 1, 2021, when all functions of the Wildfire Safety Division are transferred to the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety in the Natural Resources Agency, the department to issue the report to the electrical corporation, the Safety and Enforcement Division of the commission, and the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety. The bill would require the report be made publicly available. The bill would require each electrical corporation to reimburse the department for its cost to carry out these functions with respect to that electrical corporation.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Wildfire Vegetation Safety and Accountability Act.

SEC. 2.

 Section 4742 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

4742.
 (a) (1) An electrical corporation shall notify the department after it completes all or a substantial portion of the vegetation management requirements in its wildfire mitigation plan approved by the Public Utilities Commission pursuant to Section 8386 of the Public Utilities Code. Upon receiving notice from the electrical corporation, the department shall promptly audit the work performed by, or on behalf of, the electrical corporation. The audit shall specify any failure of the electrical corporation to fully comply with the vegetation management requirements in the wildfire mitigation plan and the department shall provide that specification to the electrical corporation. The electrical corporation shall have a reasonable time to correct and eliminate any deficiency specified in the audit.
(2) After the time to correct and eliminate any deficiency specified in the audit expires, and no less than annually, the department shall issue a report to the electrical corporation and the Wildfire Safety Division of the Public Utilities Commission specifically describing any failure of the electrical corporation to substantially comply with the vegetation management requirements in its wildfire mitigation plan. After the functions of the Wildfire Safety Division are transferred to the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety in the Natural Resources Agency, effective July 1, 2021, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 326 of the Public Utilities Code, the department shall issue the report to the electrical corporation, the Safety and Enforcement Division of the Public Utilities Commission, and the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety in the Natural Resources Agency. The report shall be made publicly available.
(3) This subdivision does not impose any liability on the department regarding the performance of the audit.
(b) (1) All electrical line clearance tree trimmers performing work to comply with the vegetation management requirements in an electrical corporation’s wildfire mitigation plan shall be qualified line clearance tree trimmers or trainees under the direct supervision and instruction of qualified line clearance tree trimmers as provided in the Department of Industrial Relations’ High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders (Group 2 (commencing with Section 2700) of Subchapter 5 of Chapter 4 of Division 1 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations).
(2) All qualified line clearance tree trimmers shall be paid no less than the prevailing wage rate for a first period apprentice electrical utility lineman as determined by the Director of Industrial Relations.
(c) An electrical corporation shall notify the Public Utilities Commission by advice letter not less than 30 days prior to the time when it projects that it will have spent, or incurred obligations to spend, its entire annual revenue requirement for vegetation management, as established by the commission.
(d) Each electrical corporation shall reimburse the department for its cost to carry out this section with respect to that electrical corporation.
(e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2021.