Assemblymember Holden Joins Governor Gavin Newsom for Wildfire Legislation Bill Signings

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Assemblymember Chris Holden joined Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing ceremony for legislation aimed at improving California’s wildfire prevention, mitigation and response efforts. As chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy, Holden had a significant role in developing a comprehensive legislative package this year to address the threat of wildfires and the resulting impact on communities and ratepayers.

“It’s been a privilege and a great responsibility to work with Governor Newsom and my colleagues in the Legislature to find the right response to the devastating wildfires that have ravaged our state,” said Holden. “Our work is not done yet but we’re in a much better place this year than we were only a year ago.”

The bills signed by Governor Newsom today included Holden’s Assembly Bill 1513 which refined provisions of legislation signed earlier this year to prevent and respond to fires caused by electric utility infrastructure.  The Governor also signed several bills for which Holden played a key role in crafting as Chair of the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.  The bills will result in the refinement of programs impacting the deenergization of electric lines (Public Safety Power Shutoffs) to prevent ignition of fires during extreme weather events and enhance vegetation management to prevent fire ignition by electric lines.  The full list of bills signed by Governor Newsom can be found here.

Climate change has created a new wildfire reality for California. The state’s fire season is now almost year round. More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat with approximately 25 percent of the state’s population – 11 million people – living in those high-risk areas.  At the same time the state is experiencing an increase in weather patterns with high wind and temperature coupled with low humidity.  The events, along with deficiencies in utility vegetation management practices, have caused the ignition of several fires as a result of contact between the electric lines and vegetation.

“Our goal in the last year has remained constant – protect ratepayers and wildfire victims, improve the safety of electric infrastructure, and ensure that we have fiscally stable electric utilities to serve customers,” said Holden.

Holden’s legislation was a follow up bill to Assembly Bill 1054 signed earlier this summer, that increased safety requirements for utilities and protected customers and taxpayers from wholly bearing the costs of devastating wildfires.