Asm Bauer-Kahan Wildfire Prevention and Utility Accountability Bills Pass State Assembly
Sacramento CA – Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan passed her legislative package on forest fire prevention and utility accountability in the Assembly last week.
BA 2083 prohibits the use of taxpayer funds in criminal or civil settlement agreements when a utility has been found negligent in starting a fire. Currently, when an investor-owned utility (IOU) reaches a pre-trial settlement with the state, county, or city, funds can be withdrawn from taxpayers, forcing Californians to pay for negligence. from a company.
AB 2070 increases safety and transparency by requiring utility companies to notify local fire districts before performing high-risk “hot work”. Notification ensures that local fire districts are prepared to respond quickly to potential fires, avoiding unnecessary destruction.
“Over the past five years, California has suffered an unprecedented number of wildfires due to utility neglect.” said Assemblyman Bauer-Kahan. “We cannot continue to let these companies continue to get away with poor safety practices and manipulative regulations that leave Californians on the hook.”
AB 2083 speaks directly to a loophole in utility liability for initiating fires. In April of this year, district attorneys from the six counties devastated by the Dixie Fire reached an agreement with PG&E over the company’s liability in starting the blaze. As part of this settlement, PG&E agreed to accelerated direct payments for loss of housing, increased performance commitments, and tax penalties. If PG&E had been convicted for starting the wildfires, all penalties would be refunded out of profits. However, since the settlement was before the main trial, it was eligible to be paid by the ratepayers. Because of the loophole, the company faced no significant liability for the negligence that destroyed 600 homes.
Preventing fires means holding perpetrators accountable and being prepared to prevent a spark from occurring. AB 2070 ensures that critical information is available to address risks as they arise. When fire districts know in advance that there is hazardous work going on in their area, they can be prepared by having fire personnel ready and ready. Without this information from utilities, neighborhoods can be caught off guard and lose valuable time to stop the flames.
“After arriving on the scene, it takes time for the first two units to make sense of the chaotic environmentsaid Moraga-Orinda Fire Chief Dave Winnacker. “The more one knows about the scene before arriving on a scene, the less time it takes to take the appropriate course of action.”
AB 2070 and AB 2083 are both headed to the State Senate for review.