BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    SB 1463  


                                                                    Page  1





          Date of Hearing:  August 3, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          SB 1463  
          (Moorlach) - As Amended June 30, 2016


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          |Policy       |Utilities and Commerce         |Vote:|15 - 0       |
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          |             |Natural Resources              |     |9 - 0        |
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           Urgency:  No State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission  
          (PUC), in consultation with CALFIRE, to prioritize areas in  
          which communities are subject to conditions that increase fire  
          hazards associated with overhead utility facilities, as  
          specified, when determining areas in which to require enhanced  
          mitigation measures.  Additionally, this bill requires the PUC  
          to develop a definition of "enhanced mitigation measures" in a  
          specified existing proceeding or other appropriate proceeding.   








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          Lastly, this bill requires the PUC to describe how it  
          incorporated the concerns of local governments and fire  
          departments in determining the boundaries of areas in which to  
          require enhanced mitigation.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          1)Increased costs of $582,000 (State Responsibility Area fund or  
            General Fund) over two years for CALFIRE to assist in the  
            design and development of the revised Fire Threat Map and the  
            development of enhanced mitigation measures.



          2)Minor costs to the PUC (Public Utilities Commission Utilities  
            Reimbursement Account). 


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  On May 26, 2016, the PUC approved a final version of  
            Fire Map 1, a statewide fire-threat map to show the risk of  
            power-line fires occurring and spreading throughout the state.  
             According to the author, the City of Long Beach (LBC) was  
            placed within the low-risk margins of the Utility Fire Threat  
            Index even though 90% of the LBC falls within a Very High Fire  
            Hazard Zone on the CALFIRE Fire Resources And Assessment  
            Program (FRAP) map.   The author concludes that the difference  
            between Fire Map 1 and FRAP are the variables considered,  
            including a measure that evaluates the historical cost and  
            consequence of previous fires, housing and population density.


            This bill requires the PUC to prioritize areas in similar  
            circumstances as the LBC to determine where to require  
            enhanced mitigation measures.  








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          2)Background.  In October of 2007, a series of large wildfires  
            ignited and burned hundreds of thousands of acres in several  
            counties in Southern California.  The fires displaced nearly  
            one million residents, destroyed thousands of homes, and took  
            the lives of seventeen people.  Several of the worst fires in  
            the state were caused by power lines.


            In response to the wildfires, in 2008, the PUC initiated a  
            rulemaking (R. 08-11-005) to consider and adopt regulations to  
            reduce the fire hazards associated with overhead power lines  
            and aerial communication facilities in close proximity to  
            power lines.  Many of the fire-safety regulations adopted in  
            the rulemaking applied to high fire-threat areas, which are  
            areas that had an elevated risk of power-line fires initiating  
            and spreading rapidly.  As part of the rulemaking, CALFIRE was  
            tasked with developing a statewide fire-threat map that would  
            show in great detail the risk of power-line fires occurring  
            and spreading rapidly throughout the state. 


            In May 2015, the PUC closed Rulemaking 08-11-005 and opened a  
            successor rulemaking (R. 15-05-006).  The focus of R.15-05-006  
            is to develop and adopt a Fire Map to depict the physical and  
            environmental conditions associated with an elevated potential  
            for utility associated wildfires, and to delineate the  
            boundaries of a new High Fire-Threat District where stronger  
            fire safety regulations are adopted.  CALFIRE was tasked to  
            develop Fire Map 1 which is to be used as the foundation for  
            the development of Fire Map 2 to delineate High-Fire Threat  
            District boundaries. 


            In April 2016, CALFIRE completed its development of Fire Map  
            1.  Fire Map 1 was specifically designed to identify areas  
            where environmental conditions posted an elevated hazard for  
            the ignition and rapid spread of power-line fires.  With the  








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            exception of the LBC, all parties supported the adoption of  
            Fire Map 1.  CALFIRE and relevant parties agreed to address  
            several issues as they develop Fire Map 2, including examining  
            vegetation issues in low wind areas, include utility knowledge  
            of local conditions, and investigate whether wind should be a  
            factor in the definition of High Fire Threat Districts.





          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Galehouse / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081