The Latest California Senate approves key wildfire proposal
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Latest on legislative action on a key wildfire proposal (all times local):
The California Senate has approved a proposal to stabilize the state’s electric utilities amid increasing wildfire risks.
The bipartisan vote is a win for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who wants action on the bill by Friday. It now goes to the state Assembly.
The proposal creates a fund to pay for damages from catastrophic wildfires. Utilities can tap it if they invest in safety measures and take other steps such as tying executive pay to safety performance.
It comes on the heels of two devastating wildfire seasons when major deadly blazes were caused by utility equipment.
The bill’s backers say it will protect ratepayers from escalating costs and ensure utilities can keep operating. One Democratic lawmaker said it was a missed opportunity to move the state away from relying on investor-owned utilities.
California lawmakers are taking up proposals aimed at stabilizing the state’s electric utilities in the face of devastating wildfires caused by their equipment.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wants the bills to pass by Friday, when lawmakers go on a monthlong break. Ratings agencies that assess the state’s investor-owned utilities such as Moody’s are closely watching the Legislature’s action.
Two pieces of legislation are up for hearings Monday. One would create a “wildfire fund” with tens of billions of dollars to help pay out damage claims from devastating fires. Utilities could tap it if they follow certain safety steps.
The other would create a new Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety to oversee the state’s and utilities’ wildfire safety efforts.