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AB-280 Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 01/21/2021 09:00 PM


Assembly Bill
No. 280

Introduced by Assembly Member Robert Rivas

January 21, 2021

An act to amend Section 8386 of the Public Utilities Code, relating to electricity.


AB 280, as introduced, Robert Rivas. Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over electrical corporations. Existing law requires each electrical corporation to annually prepare and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the Wildfire Safety Division of the commission for review and approval.
This bill would require each electrical corporation to also submit its wildfire mitigation plan to the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

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


 Section 8386 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

 (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. approval and to the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature. 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 receive medical baseline allowances pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 739. The electrical corporation may deploy backup electrical resources or provide financial assistance for backup electrical resources to a customer receiving a medical baseline allowance for a customer who meets all of the following requirements:
(i) The customer relies on life-support equipment that operates on electricity to sustain life.
(ii) The customer demonstrates financial need, including through enrollment in the California Alternate Rates for Energy program created pursuant to Section 739.1.
(iii) The customer is not eligible for backup electrical resources provided through medical services, medical insurance, or community resources.
(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.
(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 medical baseline allowances 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 commission’s Safety Model Assessment Proceeding (A.15-05-002, et al.) 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, insulating of distribution wires, and replacing poles.
(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.