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SB-533 Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans: deenergization events.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 07/01/2021 09:00 PM
SB533:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  July 01, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  May 20, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 29, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 26, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 05, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 533


Introduced by Senator Stern

February 17, 2021


An act to amend Sections 8370, 8385, and Section 8386 of, and to add Section 8373 to, of the Public Utilities Code, relating to electricity.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 533, as amended, Stern. Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans: deenergization events: microgrids. events.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations. Existing law requires an electrical corporation 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 and submit a wildfire mitigation plan to the PUC for review and approval, as specified. Following approval, the PUC is required to oversee an electrical corporation’s compliance with the plans.
This bill would require that an electrical corporation’s wildfire mitigation plan identify circuits that have frequently been deenergized to mitigate the risk of wildfire and the measures taken, or planned to be taken, by the electrical corporation to reduce the need for for, and impact of, future deenergization of those circuits, including replacing, hardening, or undergrounding any portion of the circuit or of upstream transmission or distribution lines, or the installation of microgrids. lines.

Existing law requires the PUC, in consultation with the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission and the Independent System Operator (ISO), to take specified actions by December 1, 2020, to facilitate the commercialization of microgrids for distribution customers of large electrical corporations, including developing microgrid service standards necessary to meet state and local permitting requirements and developing methods to reduce barriers for microgrid deployment without shifting costs between ratepayers.

The bill would require an electrical corporation, upon request, to collaborate with local governments, tribal governments, or community choice aggregators within its service area to identify critical circuits and microgrid projects. The bill would require electrical corporations to provide local governments, tribal governments, and community choice aggregators with electrical distribution equipment data, transmission and distribution circuit data, grid hardening plans, and other information requested by those entities to ensure that they are able to plan and develop microgrid projects collaboratively with the electrical corporations. If a local government, tribal government, or community choice aggregator requests information relating to individual customers, customers’ personal information, or customers’ locations, the bill would require the electrical corporation to provide the information on a confidential basis, and require the local government, tribal government, or community choice aggregator to not use the information for any other purpose than planning and developing microgrid projects. The bill would require a local government, tribal government, or community choice aggregator that requests and accepts data to maintain the confidentiality of any information designated as confidential by the electrical corporation.

Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.

This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

Under existing law, a violation of any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.
Because violation of an order or decision of the commission implementing the bill’s 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: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a)The state has an urgent need to accelerate development and procurement of resources that do not emit greenhouse gases when generating electricity to bolster electrical grid reliability and resiliency and to support economic development and job growth in a manner that aligns with the state’s clean energy objectives.

(b)California is a global leader in solar and battery storage deployment, and these resources are increasingly and urgently needed to boost electrical grid reliability and support the state’s transition to clean energy in a cost-effective manner. However, additional resources are needed to provide a clean, reliable, and resilient electrical grid.

(c)Deenergization of electrical infrastructure should be a last resort strategy for wildfire prevention by electrical corporations. Losing electrical service for any extended period of time results in hardship and losses for an impacted community. An electrical corporation should take all necessary steps to ensure that any electrical outage causes minimal disruption to its customers.

(d)Cities, counties, and special districts affected by deenergization events have essential government services shut down during these outages, affecting public health and safety.

(e)Critical facilities and critical infrastructure are vital public resources that serve essential functions. Critical facilities may include law enforcement and emergency response facilities, schools, hospitals, prisons, and major roads, but can also include facilities serving essential needs of a community, including facilities that provide wastewater treatment or health assistance, pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, local nonprofit organizations, and emergency shelters. Uninterrupted electrical service to these facilities is essential in order to maintain public health and safety.

(f)Medically vulnerable electricity customers face unique threats to health and safety during outages. The longer an electrical shutoff lasts, the more dangerous the consequences can become.

(g)An electrical corporation has a responsibility to provide safe and reliable electrical service to its customers and can achieve this through ensuring their infrastructure is modernized and upgraded through hardening and undergrounding portions of its transmission and distribution system, using microgrids, and the accelerated procurement of generating resources that emit no greenhouse gases when generating electricity to bolster grid reliability and resiliency.

SEC. 2.Section 8370 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:
8370.

For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a)“Access and functional needs population” has the same meaning as defined in Section 8593.3 of the Government Code.

(b)“Critical circuit” means an electrical circuit that supplies electricity to one or more critical facilities or to critical infrastructure, as reported to the commission by each electrical corporation.

(c)“Critical customer” means a customer of an electrical corporation receiving a medical baseline allowance pursuant to Section 739 who resides within a high fire-threat district or vulnerable transmission area, or a customer of a local publicly owned electric utility enrolled in a life support discount program who resides within a high fire-threat district or vulnerable transmission area.

(d)“Critical facilities and critical infrastructure” means facilities and infrastructure that are essential to health and public safety that require assistance and advance planning to ensure their resiliency during a deenergization event, as reported to the commission by the Office of Emergency Services based on consultations with local governments, including, but not limited to, facilities and infrastructure within the United States Department of Homeland Security’s critical infrastructure sectors.

(e)“Customer” means a customer of a local publicly owned electric utility or of a large electrical corporation. A person or entity is a customer of a large electrical corporation if the customer is physically located within the service territory of the large electrical corporation and receives bundled service, distribution service, or transmission service from the large electrical corporation.

(f)“Deenergization event” has the same meaning as defined in Section 8385.

(g)“Distributed energy resource” means an electric generation or storage technology that complies with the emissions standards adopted by the State Air Resources Board pursuant to the distributed generation certification program requirements of Section 94203 of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations, or any successor regulation.

(h)“High fire-threat district” means a geographic area identified by the commission as a Tier II or Tier III fire-threat area, where there is an elevated or extreme risk for fires caused by electrical infrastructure igniting and spreading rapidly.

(i)“Large electrical corporation” means an electrical corporation with more than 100,000 service connections in California.

(j)“Local government” means a city, county, city and county, or special district.

(k)“Microgrid” means an interconnected system of loads and energy resources, including, but not limited to, distributed energy resources, energy storage, demand response tools, or other management, forecasting, and analytical tools, appropriately sized to meet customer needs, within a clearly defined electrical boundary that can act as a single, controllable entity, and can connect to, disconnect from, or run in parallel with, larger portions of the electrical grid, or can be managed and isolated to withstand larger disturbances and maintain electrical supply to connected critical infrastructure.

(l)“Project” means a microgrid project that meets the resiliency needs of a local government, joint powers authority, or special district and may include microgrid projects that meet the resiliency needs for critical facilities and critical infrastructure, critical customers, or customers from an access and functional needs population that can operate disconnected from the distribution system for a predetermined period of time.

(m)“Resiliency” means the ability to mitigate and recover from an electrical service disruption using generation resources that maintain all or essential electrical service to customers, including critical facilities and critical infrastructure. Electrical service disruptions include, but are not limited to, emergencies, natural disasters, planned or unplanned electricity outages, or other events that may cause disruptions to important public services.

SEC. 3.Section 8373 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:
8373.

(a)An electrical corporation shall collaborate upon request with local governments, tribal governments, or community choice aggregators within its service area to identify critical circuits and microgrid projects.

(b)(1)An electrical corporation shall provide local governments, tribal governments, and community choice aggregators with electrical distribution equipment data, transmission and distribution circuit data, grid hardening plans, and other information requested by local governments, tribal governments, and community choice aggregators to ensure the local governments, tribal governments, and community choice aggregators are able to plan and develop microgrid projects collaboratively with the electrical corporation.

(2)If a local government, tribal government, or community choice aggregator requests information pursuant to this subdivision relating to individual customers, customers’ personal information, or customers’ locations, the electrical corporation shall provide the information on a confidential basis, and the local government, tribal government, or community choice aggregator shall not use the information for any other purpose than planning and developing microgrid projects.

(3)Any local government, tribal government, or community choice aggregator that requests and accepts data provided pursuant to this subdivision shall maintain the confidentiality of any information designated as confidential by the electrical corporation.

(4)The electrical corporation shall respond to the data request no later than 30 days after receipt.

SEC. 4.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. 5.SECTION 1.

 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 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 continued 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) Identification of circuits that have frequently been deenergized pursuant to a deenergization event to mitigate the risk of wildfire and the measures taken, or planned to be taken, by the electrical corporation to reduce the need for for, and impact of, future deenergization of those circuits, including, but not limited to, replacing, hardening, or undergrounding any portion of the circuit or of upstream transmission or distribution lines, or the installation of microgrids. lines.
(9) Plans for vegetation management.
(10) Plans for inspections of the electrical corporation’s electrical infrastructure.
(11) 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.
(12) 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.
(13) A description of how the plan accounts for the wildfire risk identified in the electrical corporation’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Phase filing.
(14) 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.
(15) 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.
(16) 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.
(17) 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.
(18) 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.
(19) 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.
(20) A statement of how the electrical corporation will restore service after a wildfire.
(21) 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.
(22) 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.
(23) 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. 6.

The Legislature finds and declares that Section 3 of this act, which adds Section 8373 to the Public Utilities Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:

(a)To ensure the safety of the electrical distribution and transmission grid, the interest in the public disclosure of electrical equipment data, transmission and distribution circuit data, and grid hardening plans of electrical corporations is outweighed by the interest in maintaining the confidentiality of this information.

(b)To ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy of individual customers of an electrical corporation is preserved, the interest of the public in disclosure of information relating to individual customers, customers’ personal information, or customers’ locations used for the planning and development of microgrid projects, is outweighed by the interest in maintaining the confidentiality of this information.

SEC. 7.SEC. 2.

 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.