Legislators Say Governor’s Plan to Stabilize California’s Utility Market Omits Preparedness and Prevention Issues

Friday, June 28, 2019

SACRAMENTO–A bipartisan group of nine legislators signed a statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal (AB 1054) to stabilize the utility markets that acknowledges the importance of ensuring reliable, affordable power to our communities, but points out that the proposal ignores absolutely critical components of a solution – prevention and preparedness.

Senators Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) and Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) and Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) signed the statement, a copy of which was provided to the Governor’s office.

“This plan only focuses on the utility side of the equation, and that’s very important,” says Wood, whose district experienced the tragic fires of 2017. “We need to protect ratepayers, make sure victims of the 2017-18 fires are compensated and stabilize the utility market, but we cannot ignore the other side of the equation and that’s prevention and preparedness, which is not addressed.

The statement signed by the legislators says:

In 2017, utility-involved wildfires cost more than $18 billion and more than $20 billion in 2018. The cost and devastation of these wildfires is unacceptable and untenable. Creating new financial tools without addressing the root crisis will only result in shifting the costs to ratepayers, taxpayers, and homeowners. SB 901 committed important resources towards improving the health of our forests and wildlands, but without a substantial investment in fire prevention for communities and homeowners, the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the future is too high.

“It is critical that we must, as part of this plan, include the necessary investments needed to prevent and mitigate the impact of future wildfires by helping people harden their homes and manage their property so they don’t become the next victims,” said Wood. “You just can’t have one without the other.”

###