BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




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                                UNFINISHED BUSINESS 


          Bill No:  SB 1463
          Author:   Moorlach (R), et al.
          Amended:  6/30/16  
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE ENERGY, U. & C. COMMITTEE:  9-0, 4/5/16
           AYES:  Hueso, Morrell, Cannella, Hertzberg, Hill, Lara, Leyva,  
            McGuire, Pavley
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Gaines, Wolk

           SENATE NATURAL RES. & WATER COMMITTEE:  9-0, 4/12/16
           AYES:  Pavley, Stone, Allen, Hertzberg, Hueso, Jackson,  
            Monning, Vidak, Wolk

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  7-0, 5/27/16
           AYES:  Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, McGuire, Mendoza, Nielsen

           SENATE FLOOR:  38-0, 5/31/16
           AYES:  Allen, Anderson, Bates, Beall, Berryhill, Block,  
            Cannella, De León, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Glazer, Hall,  
            Hancock, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Hueso, Huff, Jackson,  
            Lara, Leno, Leyva, Liu, McGuire, Mendoza, Mitchell, Monning,  
            Moorlach, Morrell, Nguyen, Nielsen, Pan, Pavley, Roth, Stone,  
            Vidak, Wolk
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Runner, Wieckowski

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  75-0, 8/18/16 - See last page for vote

           SUBJECT:   Electrical lines:  mitigation of wildfire risks


          SOURCE:    City of Laguna Beach

          DIGEST:   This bill requires the California Public Utilities  
          Commission (CPUC), in consultation with the Department of  








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          Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), to prioritize areas in  
          which communities are subject to conditions that increase fire  
          hazards associated with overhead utility facilities when  
          determining areas which it will require enhanced mitigation  
          measures for wildfire hazards posed by overhead electrical lines  
          and equipment.  This bill also requires the CPUC to define  
          "enhanced mitigation measures" and to describe how the agency  
          incorporated the concerns of local governments and/or fire  
          departments in determining the geographic communities.


          Assembly Amendments require the CPUC to prioritize communities  
          that are subject to conditions that increase fire hazards  
          associated with overhead electrical utility facilities, instead  
          of the previous language which prioritized "areas in which  
          communities are at high risk from the consequences of  
          wildfires."


          ANALYSIS: 


          Existing law:


          1)Provides that the CPUC has regulatory authority over public  
            utilities, including electric corporations.  (California  
            Constitution, Article 3 and 4)


          2)States it is the intent of the Legislature that the CPUC  
            assess the consequences of its decisions, including economic  
            effects, and assess and mitigate the impacts of its decision  
            on customer, public, and employee safety, as part of each  
            ratemaking, rulemaking, or other proceeding, and that this be  
            accomplished using existing resources.  (Public Utilities Code  
            §321.1)


          3)Requires the CPUC to develop formal procedures to incorporate  
            safety in a rate case application by an electrical corporation  
            or gas corporations.  (Public Utilities Code §750)








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          4)Establishes the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones in order  
            to classify lands in the state with whether a very high fire  
            hazard is present so that public officials are able to  
            identify and adopt measures to mitigate against fire risk.  
            (Government Code §51175)


          5)Establishes the California Emergency Services Act and provides  
            that the state is recognized with responsibility to mitigate  
            the effects of natural, manmade, or war-caused emergencies  
            that result in conditions of disaster or in extreme peril to  
            life, property, and the resources of the state, generally to  
            protect the health and safety and preserve the lives and  
            property of the people of the state.  Confers on the Governor  
            to provide state assistance and emergency programs.  
            (Government Code §8550)


          This bill:


          1)Requires CPUC, in consultation with CAL FIRE, to prioritize  
            areas in which communities are subject to conditions that  
            increase fire hazards associated with overhead utility  
            facilities when determining areas which it will require  
            enhanced mitigation measures for wildfire hazards posed by  
            overhead electrical lines and equipment. 


          2)Requires the CPUC, consistent with Public Utilities Code  
            Section 321.1, to develop a definition of "enhanced mitigation  
            measures" for purposes of its fire-threat maps and fire-safety  
            regulations as included in Rulemaking 15-05-006. 


          3)Requires the CPUC to include a description of how the agency  
            incorporated the concerns of local governments and/or fire  
            departments in its findings supporting a decision to approve  
            the boundaries for the communities prioritized.









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          Background


          Laguna's experience with wildfire.  On Friday, July 3, 2015, a  
          portion of Laguna Canyon area experienced a fire when falling  
          trees hit a power line on Arroyo Drive which sparked a fire on a  
          brush covered hillside along Laguna Canyon Road.  With light  
          winds and air support, the fire was knocked down after burning  
          about 15 acres.  Five aircraft and 150 firefighters were  
          deployed. Based on a local news story, the brush fire prompted  
          the Mayor to call for an all-out effort to underground utilities  
          citywide.  According to the same Laguna Beach Indy newspaper  
          story, residents, motivated by improving views and lowering fire  
          risk, themselves have footed the bill to bury utility lines in  
          their own neighborhoods in 40 percent of the city, the public  
          works department estimates.  According to a city statement,  
          since 2007, at least four fires have been attributed to  
          above-ground electric utilities and been involved in 46  
          accidents along Laguna Canyon Road.  Laguna Beach has also  
          experienced one of the nation's costliest fires.  In 1993 an  
          arsonist-caused fire burned 16,000 acres and destroyed or  
          severely damaged over 400 homes and caused $528 million dollars  
          in damage.


          CPUC efforts to address wildfires.  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 ten people and an additional seven  
          who died from evacuating or from fire related causes.  These  
          fires included the Witch Fire, one of the nation's most  
          damaging, which was ignited by power lines.  Other notable  
          wildfires were caused by power lines, including Grass Valley  
          Fire, the Malibu Canyon Fire, the Rice Fire, the Sedgewick Fire,  
          and the Witch Fire.  After the 2007 fires ravaged several areas  
          of the state, in 2008, the CPUC initiated rulemaking proceeding  
          to address fires related to utility poles.  The CPUC's efforts  
          have resulted in additional requirements on utilities to reduce  
          the likelihood of fires started by or threatening utility  
          facilities, including improved vegetation management, as well  








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          as, requiring the utilities to develop electric utility fire  
          prevention plans.  The first phase also adopted fire hazard maps  
          of high-risk areas in Southern California. In May 2015, the CPUC  
          opened a new rulemaking proceeding to develop and adopt  
          fire-threat maps and fire-safety regulations (R. 15-05-006).   
          The CPUC tasked CAL FIRE to oversee and select outside experts  
          to develop a more refined statewide fire hazard map.  As noted  
          in the Scoping Memo, the fire-threat map will be based on  
          approximately 150 terabytes of fire-weather data, which will be  
          used to run millions of fire simulations to build a high  
          resolution, statewide fire-treat map.  The CPUC and CAL FIRE  
          have conducted workshops to solicit feedback on the draft map.   
          After a couple of delays, a final map was issued on February 12  
          of this year, known as Fire Map 1, which will be used as the  
          foundation for the development of Fire Map 2 to delineate  
          High-Fire Threat District boundaries. 


          Mapping fire hazard and risk.  The City of Laguna Beach  
          submitted comments into the proceeding to express the City's  
          objections to Fire Map 1, particularly because the map places  
          the city under the lowest margins of the Utility Fire Threat  
          index.  The City of Laguna Beach stated that the map has  
          limitations and needs correcting to what appears to be the  
          exclusion of key criteria that artificially eliminates developed  
          communities from high wildfire risk categories, including  
          housing density and local fire history.  The City of Laguna  
          points to a 2008 CAL FIRE Fire Hazard Severity Zone Development  
          map which designates 90 percent of the city in a very high fire  
          hazard severity zone.  They also submitted comments to request  
          the CPUC explain how the map will be used prior to adoption, so  
          as to ensure utilities won't point to the map to argue that  
          communities, such as Laguna Beach, are not at risk for wildfire  
          and should, therefore, not receive any mitigation efforts. 


          SB 1463.  This bill requires the CPUC, in consultation with CAL  
          FIRE, in R.15-05-006, or another appropriate proceeding to  
          prioritize areas in which communities are subject to conditions  
          that increase fire hazards associated with overhead utility  
          facilities generally and at specific locations and develop a  
          definition of "enhanced mitigation measures."  This bill also  








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          requires any findings supporting a decision to approve the  
          boundaries for specified areas to describe how the CPUC  
          incorporated the concerns of local governments, fire  
          departments, or both in determining those boundaries. 


          Related Legislation


          SB 1028 (Hill, 2016) requires CPUC-regulated utilities to file  
          wildfire mitigation plans and requires the CPUC to vote to  
          review and comment on those plans. The bill also requires  
          publicly-owned utilities to file wildfire mitigation plans with  
          their governing boards.  The bill is currently pending  
          consideration by the full Assembly.


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No


          According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee:


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


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


          SUPPORT:   (Verified8/19/16)


          City of Laguna Beach (source)
           City of Aliso Viejo
           City of Irvine
           City of Malibu
           City of Newport 








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           Orange County Fire Chiefs Association
          Rural County Representatives of California


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified8/19/16)


          None received


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:       According to the sponsor, the City  
          of Laguna Beach, SB 1463 instructs the CPUC on best use of fire  
          hazard information in developing future heightened utility fire  
          mitigation standards for at-risk communities throughout the  
          state.  On February 2, 2016, the CPUC served the final version  
          of Fire Map 1.  The City of Laguna Beach was placed within the  
          low-risk margins of the Utility Fire Threat Index.  The City is  
          concerned that the map may be used by utilities to justify  
          providing a less-safe level of service than would otherwise be  
          requires if the City remained in a high risk zone.  SB 1463  
          would resolve this issue by requiring the CPUC to take into  
          consideration areas in which communities are at risk from the  
          consequences of wildfires not just those areas where certain  
          environmental hazards are present.    


           
           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  75-0, 8/18/16
           AYES: Achadjian, Alejo, Travis Allen, Arambula, Atkins, Baker,  
            Bigelow, Bloom, Bonilla, Bonta, Brough, Brown, Burke,  
            Calderon, Campos, Chang, Chau, Chávez, Chiu, Chu, Cooley,  
            Cooper, Dahle, Daly, Dodd, Eggman, Beth Gaines, Gallagher,  
            Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gatto, Gipson, Gomez,  
            Gonzalez, Gordon, Gray, Grove, Hadley, Harper, Irwin, Jones,  
            Jones-Sawyer, Lackey, Levine, Linder, Lopez, Low, Maienschein,  
            Mathis, Mayes, McCarty, Medina, Melendez, Mullin, Nazarian,  
            Obernolte, O'Donnell, Olsen, Patterson, Quirk, Ridley-Thomas,  
            Rodriguez, Salas, Santiago, Steinorth, Mark Stone, Thurmond,  
            Ting, Wagner, Waldron, Weber, Wilk, Williams, Wood, Rendon
           NO VOTE RECORDED: Dababneh, Frazier, Roger Hernández, Holden,  
            Kim









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          Prepared by:Nidia Bautista / E., U., & C. / (916) 651-4107
          8/19/16 19:29:38


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