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AB-433 California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Program: electrical utilities: voluntary contributions.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/04/2021 09:00 PM
AB433:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 433


Introduced by Assembly Member Chen
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Lackey)

February 04, 2021


An act to amend Section 8654.7 of, to amend and renumber 8654.10 of, and to add Section 8654.10 to, the Government Code, and to add and repeal Section 8389.5 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to wildfire mitigation.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 433, as introduced, Chen. California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Program: electrical utilities: voluntary contributions.
Existing law requires the Office of Emergency Services to enter into a joint powers agreement pursuant to the Joint Exercise of Powers Act with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop and administer a comprehensive wildfire mitigation program to, among other things, encourage cost-effective structure hardening and retrofitting to create fire-resistant homes, businesses, and public buildings. Existing law requires the State Fire Marshal, in consultation with specified state officials, to identify building retrofits and structure hardening measures, and the department to identify defensible space, vegetation management, and fuel modification activities, that are eligible for financial assistance under the program. Existing law specifies the types of designated wildfire hazard areas eligible for funding under the program. Existing authorizes the joint powers authority administering the program to accept federal funds for the purposes of the program. Existing law makes the operation of the program contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature and would repeal the program’s provisions on July 1, 2025.
This bill would authorize the joint powers authority implementing the above-described program to accept voluntary contributions and would require the contributions be deposited in the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Fund, which the bill would establish in the State Treasury. The bill would provide that moneys in the fund are available, upon appropriation by the Legislature for purpose of the program.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, while local publicly owned electric utilities, are under the direction of their governing boards. This bill would require the commission to require electrical corporations to include as a part of their billing statement to their customers a line item allowing the customers to designate a voluntary contribution, in excess of the amount due and owing to the electrical corporation for electrical service, in support of the above-described program. The bill would require that the electrical corporations to remit, on a monthly basis, the collected contribution to the state for deposit into the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Fund. The bill would impose similar requirements on local publicly owned electric utilities, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program. The bill would authorize the commission to conduct audits on the electrical corporations regarding the voluntary contributions. The bill would authorize the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to conduct audits on the local publicly owned electric utilities regarding the voluntary contributions. The bill would repeal these provisions on July 1, 2025.
Under existing law, a violation of any order, ​decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the Public Utilities Commission is a crime.​
Because a violation​ of an order or decision of the commission implementing requirements of the bill with respect to 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 specified reasons.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 8654.7 of the Government Code is amended to read:

8654.7.
 (a) (1) The joint powers authority may accept any federal funds granted, by act of Congress or by executive order, for all or any of the purposes of this chapter.
(2) The joint powers authority may accept voluntary contributions for purpose of this chapter. Voluntary contributions made pursuant to this paragraph shall be deposited in the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Fund established pursuant to Section 8654.10.
(b) The joint powers authority shall develop criteria and a scoring methodology to prioritize financial assistance provided under the wildfire mitigation program to areas and communities based upon criteria that include, but are not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Area and community vulnerability to wildfire.
(2) The impact of future climate risk factors on area and community wildfire vulnerability assessments.
(3) Factors that lead some populations to experience a greater risk to wildfire, adverse health outcomes, or an inhibited ability to respond to a wildfire, including socioeconomic characteristics of the areas or communities that would be protected by financial assistance. For purposes of this paragraph “relevant socioeconomic characteristics” may include, among other things, data on poverty levels, residents with disabilities, language barriers, residents over 65 or under 5 years of age, and households without a car.
(c) Subdivision (b) shall apply to all financial assistance provided under the wildfire mitigation program unless the joint powers authority determines that all, or a portion of, subdivision (b) should not apply to an award of federal funds on the basis of terms and conditions imposed by the federal government on that award of federal funds. funds or to a voluntary contribution on the basis of terms and conditions imposed by the contributor on the contribution.

SEC. 2.

 Section 8654.10 is added to the Government Code, to read:

8654.10.
 The California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Fund is hereby established in the State Treasury. The fund shall serve as a repository for moneys collected pursuant to Section 8389.5 of the Public Utilities Code and other donations made for purposes of this article. Moneys in the fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, shall be available for purposes of this article.

SEC. 3.

 Section 8654.10 of the Government Code is amended and renumbered to read:

8654.10.8654.11
 (a) The operation of this article is contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act or another statute for purposes of this article.
(b) No later than July 1, 2024, the joint powers authority shall submit a report to the Legislature, in compliance with Section 9795, regarding the implementation of the wildfire mitigation financial assistance program administered pursuant to this chapter. The report shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) An evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of the wildfire mitigation program compared to other structure hardening, defensible space, vegetation management, and fuel reduction incentive programs.
(2) An evaluation of the overall wildfire risk reduction achieved statewide through awards of financial assistance under the wildfire mitigation program.
(3) Detailed information about the quantity, monetary value, geographic distribution, and categories of awards of financial assistance made under the wildfire mitigation program.
(4) Detailed information about the sources and amounts of funds appropriated or granted to the wildfire mitigation program.
(5) Detailed information about barriers encountered to completing work awarded financial assistance under the wildfire mitigation program, including state, regional, or local permitting requirements.
(6) Any other information the office determines is necessary or convenient to evaluate the financial assistance awarded under the program.
(c) This article shall remain in effect only until July 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 4.

 Section 8389.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

8389.5.
 (a) (1) The commission shall require each electrical corporation to include as a part of the billing statement to its customers a line item allowing the customer to designate a voluntary contribution, in excess of the amount due and owing to the electrical corporation for electrical service, in support of the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Program (Article 16.5 (commencing with Section 8654.2) of Chapter 7 of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code).
(2) An electrical corporation shall remit, on a monthly basis, the voluntary contributions collected pursuant to paragraph (1) to the state for deposit in the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Fund.
(3) To ensure the voluntary contributions are collected and remitted to the state, the commission may conduct an audit of the electrical corporation regarding the voluntary contributions.
(b) (1) Each local publicly owned electric utility shall include as a part of the billing statement to its customers a line item allowing the customer to designate a voluntary contribution, in excess of the amount due and owing to the electrical corporation for electrical service, in support of the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Program (Article 16.5 (commencing with Section 8654.2) of Chapter 7 of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code).
(2) A local publicly owned electric utility shall remit, on a monthly basis, the voluntary contributions collected pursuant to paragraph (1) to the state for deposit in the California Wildfire Mitigation Financial Assistance Fund.
(3) To ensure the voluntary contributions are collected and remitted to the state, the Energy Commission may conduct an audit of the local publicly owned electric utility regarding the voluntary contributions.
(c) This section shall remain in effect only until July 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 5.

 After June 30, 2025, moneys collected pursuant to Section 8389.5 of the Public Utilities Code that are unencumbered as of that date shall be available for appropriation by the Legislature for programs to provide financial assistance for structure hardening, defensible space, vegetation management, or fuel reduction.

SEC. 6.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act or because 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.