Published : Friday, July 12, 2019 | 1:17 PM
Assemblymember Chris Holden’s legislation, Assembly Bill 1054, which protects ratepayers and increases accountability for investor owned utilities, was signed into law today.
“This package offers a durable solution to the problems arising from utility-caused wildfires in California,” said Assemblymember Holden. “The incredible devastation catastrophic wildfires have inflicted on the lives of Californians, the cost to customers and the impact on solvency of the providers of power to all of us is the reason why this legislation is crucial.”
In 2018, extensive debate resulted in Senate Bill 901, legislation that intended to stabilize the fiscal situation of the utilities.
“This is not a new issue,” said Holden. “We’ve had the opportunity to learn from various hearings, reports and debates, as well as the Governor’s Strike Force Report. We must take the necessary steps to ensure that we have fiscally stable electric utilities in this state which can keep the lights on in order to protect customers and our economy.”
Climate change has created a new wildfire reality for California. The state’s fire season is now almost year round. More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat with approximately 25 percent of the state’s population – 11 million people – living in that high-risk area. Utility infrastructure is igniting an excessive buildup of dry brush, from poor vegetation management in some areas, to high wind and low humidity in others, this increases the contact between utility lines and trees, thus causing ignition.
AB 1054 would increase accountability for utilities, protect customers and taxpayers from wholly bearing the costs of devastating wildfires and provides forward-looking mechanisms to ensure greater safety for all Californians.