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California lawmakers OK multi-billion dollar wildfire bill

California lawmakers have approved a sprawling bill meant to shore up the state's major electric utilities in the face of another wildfire season.

Posted: Jul 11, 2019 11:22 AM
Updated: Jul 11, 2019 11:39 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California lawmakers have approved a sprawling bill meant to shore up the state's major electric utilities in the face of another wildfire season.

The biggest power companies will have to spend billions of dollars on safety improvements under the bill lawmakers sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday.

The measure would also create a fund to compensate victims of wildfires caused by utility equipment in certain circumstances. Survivors of major fires last year say the measure will give them more leverage to get compensation from Pacific Gas & Electric despite it being in bankruptcy.

Some lawmakers raised concerns about rushing the lengthy bill. The final draft was published less than a week ago.

But Newsom wanted the legislation before lawmakers adjourned for a monthlong recess after this week.

According to the LA times, Newsom's proposal states that the funding will come from an extension of an existing fee on electricity bills. The fees will generate $10.5 billion from utility customers. 

Newsom issued the following statement Thursday on the Legislature's passage of Assembly Bill 1054:

“I want to thank the Legislature for taking thoughtful and decisive action to move our state toward a safer, affordable and reliable energy future, provide certainty for wildfire victims and continue California’s progress toward meeting our clean energy goals. The rise in catastrophic wildfires fueled by climate change is a direct threat to Californians. Strengthening our state’s wildfire prevention, preparedness and mitigation efforts will continue to be a top priority for my administration and our work with the Legislature.”

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