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Dodd bill makes planned power shut-offs a local emergency eligible for state aid

Dodd bill makes planned power shut-offs a local emergency eligible for state aid

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State Sen. Bill Dodd

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa

Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, has successfully pushed a bill through the California Legislature that allows local officials to access state funding for emergencies tied to public safety power shut-offs by utility companies.

The legislation makes local governments eligible for funding provided under the Emergency Services Act if electrical utilities shut off power due to high wildfire danger.

The same California law currently allows local authorities to declare a state of emergency during severe energy shortages along with natural disasters, infectious disease events and other catastrophes. Dodd's bill ensures the inclusion of planned shut-offs due to wildfire threat as well.

The bill will help communities grappling with the costs of responding to power shut-offs utilities conduct when weather conditions create extreme fire danger, Dodd said.

Tens of thousands of PG&E customers across Northern California have experienced those shut-offs this year amid another fierce fire season. PG&E first employed the planned outages on a wide scale in 2018 after its equipment was linked to most of the major fires in the 2017 firestorm.

New criteria used by PG&E to closely evaluate the risk trees pose to power lines during severe weather could increase the number and size of those shut-offs, according to a report last month by utility and emergency officials to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

"Clearly, the wildfire threat is not going away," Dodd said in written statement. "And as we've seen recently, utility companies continue to employ this preventative measure."

Cosigned by Senate Minority Leader Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, the legislation passed the Assembly Monday after receiving the unanimous approval of the state Senate on April 29.

The bill also received "overwhelming bipartisan support" in the Assembly, according to a statement from Dodd's office. It will now return to the Senate for a vote to concur with amendments made in the House before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature.

A crew from Atlas Tree picks up downed trees at Herb Lamb Vineyards in Deer Park on Tuesday, under a new program launched by PG&E.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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