Governor Brown Signs Wildfire Safety Bill

Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that would help California Utilities like PG&E pay for Wildfires sparked by power lines.

SB 901, written by State Senator Bill Dodd of Napa, would allow state’s investor-owned utilities to issue ratepayer protection bonds, which would be repaid through consumer electric bills. These bonds would only be done if approved by the Public Utilities Commission or PUC.

The bill also requires better forest management practices, increased fuel reduction efforts, the de-energizing of electric utility power lines in extreme weather and a general hardening of the utility grid.

“This new law is the most comprehensive wildfire prevention and safety package the state has passed in decades,” said Sen. Dodd said. “It will help prevent further loss of life and property while ensuring ratepayers aren’t left holding the bag. By enacting this new law we’ve laid a solid base to build on as California continues adapting to the ‘new normal’ caused by climate change.”

Critics of the bill say that SB 901 rewards Utility Companies negligent behavior calling it a bailout. Groups like the Utility Reform Network.

“We believe that PG&E had a hand in negotiating its own bailout,” spokesperson Mindy Spatt tells CNBC. “we know that they’ve spent millions and millions lobbying for this.”

The signing of the bill comes just a couple weeks short of the One year anniversary date of the October Wildfires which killed 43 people and destroyed around 8,900 structures.