Legislature Approves Sen. Dodd’s Wildfire Power Shutoff Bill

Posted on August 30, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

With wildfires threatening new rounds of public safety power shutoffs across the state, the Legislature today approved a bill from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help local governments fund emergency operations centers during the planned power outages.

“Today’s vote is an important step toward ensuring our communities have adequate resources to respond during power shutoffs,” said Sen. Dodd, whose district includes most of the Sonoma Valley. “Clearly, the wildfire threat is not going away. And as we’ve seen recently, utility companies continue to employ this preventative measure. I thank fellow legislators for seeing the value in this commonsense proposal.”

Senate Bill 52 follows a series of de-energizations from PG&E over the past two years that were intended to prevent fallen power lines and damaged equipment from sparking fires. It makes clear that such public safety power shutoffs are eligible for official emergency declarations, freeing financial assistance for local government under the Emergency Services Act.

SB 52 is supported by Napa County, California Fire Chiefs Association, Fire Districts Association of California, Regional Council of Rural Counties, Disability Rights California and the California Association of Public Authorities.

The bill passed the full Assembly today with overwhelming bipartisan support after previously being approved by the Senate. It heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office following Senate concurrence.

“While a power shutoff may be a necessary tool to prevent wildfires, the disruption to people’s lives and costs to local government cannot be ignored,” said Supervisor Diane Dillon who represents the majority of rural Napa County. “Napa County is honored to sponsor this bill, which will clarify a power shutoff constitutes a local emergency, and thanks Sen. Dodd for his leadership getting it to the governor’s desk.”

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA