Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC

DIVISION 1. REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES [201 - 3297]

  ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

PART 6. Wildfire Fund [3280 - 3297]

  ( Part 6 added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 79, Sec. 16. )

CHAPTER 2. The Wildfire Fund [3281 - 3289]
  ( Chapter 2 added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 79, Sec. 16. )

3281.
  

The administrator shall carry out the duties of this part and may do all of the following, subject to the oversight of the council:

(a) Retain, employ, or contract with officers, experts, employees, accountants, actuaries, financial professionals, and other executives, advisers, consultants, attorneys, and professionals as may be necessary in the administrator’s judgment for the efficient operation and administration of the fund.

(b) Enter into contracts and other obligations relating to the operation, management, and administration of the fund.

(c) Invest the moneys in the fund in those securities eligible under Section 16430 of the Government Code.

(d) Review and approve claims and settlements, and provide funds to the participating electrical corporations for the purposes of paying eligible claims.

(e) Buy insurance or take other actions to maximize the claims-paying resources of the fund.

(f) Pay costs, expenses, and other obligations of the fund from Wildfire Fund assets.

(g) Take any actions necessary to collect any amounts owing to the fund from participating electrical corporations.

(h) Undertake such other activities as are related to the operation, management, and administration of the fund, as approved by the council.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 396, Sec. 39. (AB 1513) Effective January 1, 2020.)

3282.
  

There shall be a limited civil immunity, and no criminal liability in a private capacity, on account of any act performed or omitted or obligation entered into in an official capacity, when done or omitted in good faith and without intent to defraud, on the part of the counsel, the administrator, or on the part of any officer, employee, or agent of the fund. The State of California shall have no liability for payment of claims in excess of funds available pursuant to this part. The State of California, and any of the funds of the State of California, shall have no obligations whatsoever for payment of claims or costs arising from this part, except as specifically provided in this part.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 396, Sec. 40. (AB 1513) Effective January 1, 2020.)

3283.
  

The council shall direct the administrator to prepare and present for approval a plan of operations related to the operations, management, and administration of the fund on an annual basis. At least annually, the council shall direct the administrator to present the plan of operations to the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature. The plan shall include, but not be limited to, reporting on the Wildfire Fund assets, projections for the durability of the fund, the success of the fund, whether or not the fund is serving its purpose, and a plan for winding up the fund if projections demonstrate that the fund will be exhausted within the next three years.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 396, Sec. 41. (AB 1513) Effective January 1, 2020.)

3284.
  

(a) There is hereby created the Wildfire Fund, which is not a fund in the State Treasury.

(b) Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, the fund is continuously appropriated without regard to fiscal years for the purposes of this part.

(c) (1) The fund shall be administered by the administrator, subject to the direction of the council, in accordance with Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 3291) to provide funds to participating electrical corporations to satisfy eligible claims arising from a covered wildfire in accordance with this part.

(2) At the discretion of the administrator, segregated, dedicated accounts within the fund may be established.

(d) The fund shall be continued in existence unless the administrator winds down the fund in accordance with Section 3291 or 3292, as applicable.

(e) Uninvested moneys in the fund may be deposited from time to time in financial institutions authorized by law to receive deposits of public moneys or, with the approval of the Treasurer, the Surplus Money Investment Fund as provided in Article 4 (commencing with Section 16470) of Chapter 3 of Part 2 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

(f) A national bank shall be custodian of all securities belonging to the fund, except as otherwise provided in the constituent instruments that define the rights of the holders of the bonds as set forth in Division 28 (commencing with Section 80500) of the Water Code.

(g) With the approval of the council, the administrator shall establish and approve procedures for the review, approval, and timely funding of eligible claims. The procedures may be revised from time to time by the administrator with the approval of the council. The procedures may include processes to facilitate and expedite the review and approval of settled eligible claims, including guidelines for, or preapproval of, settlement levels. The procedures shall provide for the reimbursement of eligible claims within 45 days of the date the administrator approves the settlement amount for any eligible claim unless that timing is not practicable.

(Added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 79, Sec. 16. (AB 1054) Effective July 12, 2019.)

3285.
  

(a) The fund shall be initially capitalized by a loan from the state’s Surplus Money Investment Fund pursuant to Section 3288.

(b) Proceeds of any bonds issued as provided in Division 28 (commencing with Section 80500) of the Water Code shall be used as provided in Section 80550 of the Water Code. Any proceeds from the bonds allocated to the fund shall be deposited into a segregated account within the fund.

(c) All of the following shall be deposited into the fund:

(1) Initial contributions from electrical corporations.

(2) Annual contributions from electrical corporations.

(3) Revenue generated from the ratepayers of a participating regional electrical corporation by a charge authorized by the commission pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 3289 and remitted to the fund pursuant to Section 3291 or 3292, as applicable.

(4) Revenues generated from the ratepayers of each large electrical corporation by a charge authorized by the commission pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 3289 as provided in paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 80550.

(5) Proceeds of bonds allocated to the fund as provided in Section 80550 of the Water Code.

(Added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 79, Sec. 16. (AB 1054) Effective July 12, 2019.)

3286.
  

The Director of Finance may, at any time, examine the books and records of the council and the administrator relating to the operation, management, and administration of the fund.

(Added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 79, Sec. 16. (AB 1054) Effective July 12, 2019.)

3287.
  

(a) On January 1, 2021, and annually thereafter, the council, with the assistance of the administrator, shall prepare and file with the Legislature and the Department of Finance periodic reports regarding the formation, administration, and disposition of the fund, as the council deems appropriate.

(b) A report submitted to the Legislature pursuant to this section shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

(Added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 79, Sec. 16. (AB 1054) Effective July 12, 2019.)

3288.
  

(a) If Section 3291 is operative, the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Treasurer and the administrator, shall determine the amount and timing of moneys needed to support the purposes of this part. The Director of Finance shall request those moneys from the Controller. Upon that request, the Controller shall transfer up to ten billion five hundred million dollars ($10,500,000,000) to the fund from the Surplus Money Investment Fund and other funds that accrue interest to the General Fund as a cash loan. The loan principal and interest shall be fully repaid as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 80550 of the Water Code.

(b) If Section 3292 is operative, the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Treasurer and the administrator, shall determine a schedule to provide ten billion five hundred million dollars ($10,500,000,000) to the fund and shall provide that schedule to the Controller within 60 days. The Controller shall transfer the moneys from the Surplus Money Investment Fund and other funds that accrue interest to the General Fund pursuant to the schedule provided by the Director of Finance as a loan to support the purposes of this part. The loan from the Surplus Money Investment Fund is intended to provide necessary cash on a short-term basis for claims-paying resources. It is the intent of the Legislature that the loan be repaid as quickly as possible within a fiscal year. The loan shall be repaid by the proceeds of the charges authorized pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 3289 or the proceeds of any bonds as set forth in Division 28 (commencing with Section 80500) of the Water Code.

(c) In the case of subdivision (a) or (b), interest payments on outstanding loan amounts shall be calculated at the greater of the quarter-to-date yield at the one-year constant maturity United States Treasury rate for the calendar quarter concluded directly before the calculation or the Surplus Money Investment Fund rate at the time of the cash transfer. The interest payments shall be paid on a quarterly basis from Wildfire Fund assets following the cash transfer and shall continue until the loan has been fully repaid. The interest payments are interest earnings of the Surplus Money Investment Fund and shall be apportioned pursuant to Sections 16475 and 16480.6 of the Government Code.

(d) Whether Section 3291 or 3292 is operative, an initial transfer to the fund of no less than two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) shall be made in the 2019–20 fiscal year.

(e) Prior to a transfer being made from the Surplus Money Investment Fund pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b), the Director of Finance shall determine if the transfer would result in the General Fund’s estimated cash and unused borrowable resources declining below three billion dollars ($3,000,000,000) at any point in time over the succeeding 24-month period. If the Director of Finance determines that the transfer would result in estimated cash and unused borrowable resources declining below that level, the transfer of funds from the Surplus Money Investment Fund shall not be made. This subdivision shall not apply to the first two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) of transfers made in the 2019–20 fiscal year.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 396, Sec. 42. (AB 1513) Effective January 1, 2020.)

3289.
  

(a) (1) No later than July 26, 2019, the commission shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding to consider using its authority pursuant to Section 701 to require each electrical corporation, except a regional electrical corporation that chooses not to participate in any fund pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 3291), to collect a nonbypassable charge from ratepayers of the electrical corporation to support the fund, including the payment of any bonds issued pursuant to Division 28 (commencing with Section 80500) of the Water Code, as follows:

(A) For a large electrical corporation, a charge in an amount sufficient to fund the revenue requirement, as established pursuant to Section 80524 of the Water Code.

(B) For a regional electrical corporation, the amount equal to one-half cent per kilowatt-hour ($0.005/kWh).

(2) If the commission determines that the imposition of the charge described in paragraph (1) is just and reasonable, and that it is appropriate to exercise its authority pursuant to Section 701 to do so, the commission shall direct each electrical corporation to impose and collect that charge commencing in the month immediately following the month in which the final imposition of the revenue requirement with respect to bonds previously issued pursuant to Division 27 (commencing with Section 80000) of the Water Code is made. The charge shall be collected in the same manner as that for the payments made to reimburse the Department of Water Resources pursuant to Division 27 (commencing with Section 80000) of the Water Code.

(b) Notwithstanding any other law, no later than 90 days after the initiation of the rulemaking proceeding, the commission shall adopt a decision regarding the imposition of the charge.

(c) Notwithstanding Section 455.5 or 1708, or any other law, the commission shall not revise, amend, or otherwise modify a decision to impose a charge made pursuant to this section at any time before January 1, 2036.

(d) If the administrator authorizes Golden State Energy to participate in the fund pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 3292, Golden State Energy’s ratepayers shall be subject to the nonbypassable charge previously imposed by the commission pursuant to this section.

(Amended by Stats. 2020, Ch. 27, Sec. 10. (SB 350) Effective January 1, 2021.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC