SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 901, which aims to strengthen wildfire prevention and recovery.
The bill, authored by Senator Bill Dodd, will boost the state's forest management activities, updates requirements for the maintenance and operation of utility infrastructure to reflect changing climate conditions and protects ratepayers and utility workers.
“Wildfires in California aren’t going away, and we have to do everything possible to prevent them. This bill is complex and requires investment – but it’s absolutely necessary,” Brown said.
Some other significant highlights of the SB 901 include:
Requiring utilities to implement comprehensive fire prevention plans, including improvements to the utility structure
Expediting small landowner incentives and projects to reduce excess fuel and remove dead and dying trees and chaparral
Facilitating access to property to carry out projects to improve overall forest health and resistance to wildfires
Adding a rigorous standard for the California Public Utilities Commission to oversee the allocation of utility wildfire costs and expenses,, including consideration of climate change impacts
Authorizing a financing mechanism so utilities can spread out wildfire costs to minimize impacts to ratepayers
Adding worker protections and prohibiting utilities from charging their customers for executive compensation
In addition to the bill, Brown issued an executive order in May to improve the health of the state's forest and help mitigate the threat of destructive fires.