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AB-1916 Proclaimed state and local emergencies: proclamations, communications, and materials: translation.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 05/04/2020 09:00 PM
AB1916:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 04, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1916


Introduced by Assembly Member Chu

January 09, 2020


An act to amend Sections 8385 and 8386 of, and to add Section 768.8 to, the Public Utilities Code, relating to electrical corporations. add Sections 8626.5 and 8634.5 to the Government Code, relating to emergency services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1916, as amended, Chu. Deenergization: notification: languages. Proclaimed state and local emergencies: proclamations, communications, and materials: translation.
Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act, authorizes the Governor to proclaim a state of emergency when specified conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist, and to exercise certain powers in response to that emergency. The act also authorizes the governing body of a city, county, city and county, or an official designated by ordinance adopted by that governing body, to proclaim a local emergency, and to exercise certain powers in response to that emergency. Existing law defines the terms “state of emergency” and “local emergency” to mean the duly proclaimed existence of conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the state caused by, among other things, fire, storm, riot, epidemic, or cyberterrorism.
This bill would require all proclamations, communications, materials, and announcements made by the Governor or a state agency related to a duly proclaimed state of emergency to be made available in all languages spoken by a substantial number of non-English-speaking people. The bill would define the term “substantial number of non-English-speaking people” to mean a group of people that do not speak English or have limited English proficiency and make up 3 percent or more of the state’s population.
This bill would also require each county to translate all emergency-related proclamations, communications, materials, and announcements made by the county related to a duly proclaimed state of emergency or a local emergency duly proclaimed by the county into all languages spoken by 1,000 or more of the county’s residents.

Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations. Under its existing regulatory authority, the commission has adopted guidelines and procedures for the intentional deenergization of an electrical corporation’s distribution and transmission systems, including the provision of certain notices regarding the deenergization event.

This bill would require an electrical corporation, by July 1, 2021, to conduct a survey of its customers asking each customer the language in which the customer prefers to receive direct communications from the electrical corporation and to list any medical needs that would require accommodation during a deenergization event. The bill would require the electrical corporation to provide direct communications and updates regarding the intentional deenergization of the electrical corporation’s distribution and transmission system to each affected customer in the preferred language of that customer. The bill would require an electrical corporation to provide communications to the general public regarding the intentional deenergization of its distribution and transmission system in each language that is identified by the Department of Health Care Services as a Medi-Cal threshold language in any area that is within its service territory, utilizing at least 3 of 4 specified means of communication.

Existing law requires each electrical corporation to annually prepare and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the commission for review and approval, as specified. Following approval, the commission is required to oversee compliance with the plans. Existing law requires a wildfire mitigation plan of an electrical corporation to include, among other things, protocols for 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 customers who receive medical baseline allowances, as specified. Existing law authorizes an electrical corporation to deploy backup electrical resources or provide financial assistance for backup electrical resources to a customer receiving a medical baseline allowance who meets specified requirements.

This bill would require that an electrical corporation’s wildfire mitigation plan include mitigating protocols that consider impacts on customers who rely on medical equipment that operates on electricity or who have a medical condition where they may be at risk from that medical condition during a deenergization event, as defined. The bill would require that the protocols in the plan require the provision of backup generators or other suitable backup electrical resources to those customers residing in an area planned for deenergization who rely on medical equipment that operates on electricity and the provision of reasonable accommodation for those customers residing in an area planned for deenergization who may be at risk from a medical condition during a deenergization event.

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.

Because the provisions of this bill would be a part of the act and because a violation of an order or decision of the commission implementing its requirements would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program by creating a new crime.

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: YESNO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 8626.5 is added to the Government Code, to read:

8626.5.
 (a) Proclamations, communications, materials, and announcements made by the Governor or a state agency related to a duly proclaimed state of emergency shall be made available in all languages spoken by a substantial number of non-English-speaking people.
(b) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Proclamations, communications, materials, and announcements” includes, but is not limited to, information posted or broadcasted on or through an internet website of the state, newspaper, social media platform, television, or radio.
(2) “Substantial number of non-English-speaking people” means a group of people that do not speak English or have limited English proficiency and make up 3 percent or more of the state’s population.

SEC. 2.

 Section 8634.5 is added to the Government Code, to read:

8634.5.
 (a) Each county shall translate all emergency-related proclamations, communications, materials, and announcements made by the county related to a duly proclaimed state of emergency or a local emergency duly proclaimed by the county into all languages spoken by 1,000 or more of the county’s residents.
(b) For purposes of this section, “proclamations, communications, materials, and announcements” includes, but is not limited to, information posted or broadcasted on or through an internet website of the county, newspaper, social media platform, television, or radio.

SECTION 1.Section 768.8 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:
768.8.

(a)For purposes of this section, “Medi-Cal threshold language” has the same meaning as set forth in Section 127928 of the Health and Safety Code.

(b)(1)On or before July 1, 2021, an electrical corporation shall conduct a survey of its customers asking each customer the language in which the customer prefers to receive direct communications from the electrical corporation and to list any medical needs that would require accommodation during a deenergization event.

(2)An electrical corporation shall provide direct communications and updates regarding the intentional deenergization of the electrical corporation’s distribution or transmission system before and during a deenergization event to each affected customer in the preferred language indicated by that customer in the survey conducted pursuant to paragraph (1).

(c)For communications to the general public regarding the intentional deenergization of an electrical corporation’s distribution or transmission system before and during a deenergization event, the electrical corporation shall provide those communications in each language that is identified by the Department of Health Care Services as a Medi-Cal threshold language in any area that is within the service territory of the electrical corporation. The electrical corporation shall provide those communications in those languages using at least three of the following four communication tools:

(1)Internet media, including, but not limited to, social media and website communications.

(2)Radio.

(3)Television.

(4)Newspapers.

SEC. 2.Section 8385 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:
8385.

(a)For purposes of this chapter, the following shall apply:

(1)“Compliance period” means a period of approximately one year.

(2)“Deenergization event” means the proactive interruption of electrical service for the purpose of mitigating or avoiding the risk of causing a wildfire.

(3)“Electrical cooperative” has the same meaning as defined in Section 2776.

(b)The commission shall supervise an electrical corporation’s compliance with the requirements of this chapter pursuant to the Public Utilities Act (Part 1 (commencing with Section 201) of Division 1). Nothing in this chapter affects the commission’s authority or jurisdiction over an electrical cooperative or local publicly owned electric utility.

SEC. 3.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 Wildfire Safety Division for review and approval. In calendar year 2020, and thereafter, the plan shall cover at least a three-year period. The division shall establish a schedule for the submission of subsequent comprehensive wildfire mitigation plans, which may allow for the staggering of compliance periods for each electrical corporation. In its discretion, the division may allow the annual submissions to be updates to the last approved comprehensive wildfire mitigation plan; provided, that each electrical corporation shall submit a comprehensive wildfire mitigation plan at least once every three years.

(c)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, 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 part of these protocols, each electrical corporation shall include protocols related to mitigating the public safety impacts of disabling reclosers and deenergizing portions of the electrical distribution system that consider the impacts on all of the following:

(A)Critical first responders.

(B)Health and communication infrastructure.

(C)Customers who rely on medical equipment that operates on electricity or who have a medical condition where they may be at risk from that medical condition during a deenergization event.

(D)Subparagraph (C) shall not be construed as preventing an electrical corporation from deploying backup electrical resources or providing financial assistance for backup electrical resources under any other authority.

(E)The protocols adopted pursuant to this paragraph shall require the provision of backup generators or other suitable backup electrical resources to those customers residing in an area planned for deenergization who rely on medical equipment that operates on electricity and the provision of reasonable accommodation for those customers residing in an area planned for deenergization who may be at risk from a medical condition during a deenergization event.

(7)Appropriate and feasible procedures for notifying a customer who may be impacted by the deenergizing of electrical lines, including procedures for those customers receiving a medical baseline allowance as described in paragraph (6). The procedures shall direct notification to all public safety offices, critical first responders, health care facilities, and operators of telecommunications infrastructure with premises within the footprint of potential deenergization for a given event.

(8)Plans for vegetation management.

(9)Plans for inspections of the electrical corporation’s electrical infrastructure.

(10)Protocols for the deenergization of the electrical corporation’s transmission infrastructure, for instances when the deenergization may impact customers who, or entities that, are dependent upon the infrastructure.

(11)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 the Safety Model Assessment Proceeding and the 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.

(12)A description of how the plan accounts for the wildfire risk identified in the electrical corporation’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Phase filing.

(13)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.

(14)A description of where and how the electrical corporation considered undergrounding electrical distribution lines within those areas of its service territory identified to have the highest wildfire risk in a commission fire threat map.

(15)A showing that the electrical corporation has an adequately 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 electrical corporation.

(16)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.

(17)A methodology for identifying and presenting enterprisewide safety risk and wildfire-related risk that is consistent with the methodology used by other electrical corporations unless the commission determines otherwise.

(18)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.

(19)A statement of how the electrical corporation will restore service after a wildfire.

(20)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 electrical corporation representatives, and emergency communications.

(21)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.

(22)Any other information that the Wildfire Safety Division may require.

(d)The Wildfire Safety Division shall post all wildfire mitigation plans and annual updates on the commission’s internet website for no less than two months before the division’s decision regarding approval of the plan. The division 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.

SEC. 4.

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.