New Wildfire Safety Advisory Board holds first meeting

California has a new weapon in the fight against wildfires.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 12:21 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California’s new Wildfire Safety Advisory Board held its first meeting on Tuesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom approved the plan last October.

The advisory board will offer wildfire expertise to the California Public Utilities Commission, which until now has never had a divison of wildfire safety.

"This board will provide an additional layer of advice and insight to make the best decisions for consumers and Californians," CPUC Deputy Executive Director, Kelly Huston said.

Southern California Edison, Laura Gena said the board will be thinking for the state about what it is that we should be doing to mitigate the risk of wildfire.

"The board has scientists and experts in utilities," Gena said.

The board will also assess the safety culture of California's utility companies. California spends close to $1 billion to cut dead trees and improve resources for wildfire response.

RELATED: Sign up to receive the latest updates regarding wildfires in the Northern California region.

In their first meeting, the Board designated two members to serve as Chair and Vice Chair of the Wildfire Safety Advisory Board.

For Chair, Marcie Edwards was selected and Vice Chair, Diane Fellman was selected.

Edwards has been the principal of MLE Consulting Inc. since 2017. She was general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from 2014 to 2017, city manager of the City of Anaheim from 2013 to 2014, and general manager for Anaheim Public Utilities from 2001 to 2013. Edwards was interim chief executive officer for the California Independent System Operator in 2004. She held positions at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from 1976 to 2000, including assistant general manager for marketing and customer service business units, bulk power business unit director, energy control center manager and superintendent of load dispatching, according to the CPUC.

Fellman was a public utility regulatory specialist at the CPUC from 2017 to 2018. She was vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Western Region at NRG Energy Inc. from 2010 to 2017, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for NextEra Energy Resources Inc. from 2004 to 2010 and an attorney in private practice from 1986 to 2004. Fellman was legal counsel at the California Public Utilities Commission from 1983 to 1986 and a hearing officer and officer manager at the California Energy Commission from 1977 to 1983, the CPUC said.

At the Tuesday meeting, the Board briefly went over the Wildfire Safety Division of the CPUC, and reviewed the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act in order to ensure transparency of its work to the public.

The board's next meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Sacramento. The public is invited to attend meetings and provide input on agenda items, such as the Board's priorities and utility wildfire plans.

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