SACRAMENTO May 30, 2019 – Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon issued the following statement after the release of the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery’s draft report:
“The rise in catastrophic wildfires, fueled by climate change, is a direct threat to Californians. As the fifth largest economy in the world, California must have safe, reliable and affordable power. This need for energy, however, must not endanger our state’s progress toward our clean energy goals. We are committed to decisive action this Session to strengthen our emergency response systems, mitigate wildfires, help achieve the state’s clean energy goals and support safe, reliable and affordable power.
“Last year, the Legislature stepped up through a special Conference Committee to address the threat of utility caused wildfires. But knowing that climate change was an ongoing contributing factor to future wildfires, the Committee established a special commission, the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery, to hold public meetings throughout the state to hear views from the public and experts as diverse as our state and then to prepare a report of its assessment of the issues surrounding catastrophic wildfire costs and the reduction of damage. The Commissioners were also called on to make recommendations for future changes to our laws to ensure equitable distribution of costs among affected parties. We want to thank the SB 901 Commission for their diligent work in tackling these issues and submitting a draft report five weeks ahead of the July 1 deadline. We look forward to closely reviewing the full findings and receiving a finalized report in the coming weeks.
“Building on the Conference Committee’s work last year, both the SB 901 Commission and the Governor’s Strike Force report underscore the urgent need for the state to act again this year.
“The report of the Governor’s Strike Force made clear the Legislature must promptly act to strengthen mitigation efforts, expand and modernize our emergency response and firefighting systems, harden our energy grids and delivery infrastructure, and to hold bad actors like PG&E accountable. And now the SB 901 Commission draft report makes clear that we must act now to stabilize the energy market and our utilities by addressing the liability faced by utilities after catastrophic wildfires.
“We will pursue legislation to tackle these important issues. To provide certainty and accountability, we will seek equitable resolution on the prudent manager standard, bridge financing and to allow cost recovery for electricity providers who act responsibly and in the public’s best interest. These actions will include insisting on a culture of safety for utilities and on affordability for ratepayers.
“We are committed to continuing the exploration of the impact of strict liability on the costs to ratepayers, on wildfire victims and on the solvency of our utilities. If the trend of massive, catastrophic wildfires persists, we may need to pursue additional changes.
“Together we can build toward a safe, affordable and reliable energy future.”