Dodd bill would make third party in charge of certain wildfire mitigation initiatives

California Sen. Bill Dodd has introduced legislation that would allow third parties to oversee wildfire risk reduction initiatives.
FILE: State Senator Bill Dodd speaks to high school students during the second-annual Yolo County Youth Empowerment Summit on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Photo by Matthew Keys/Winters Express
FILE: State Senator Bill Dodd speaks to high school students during the second-annual Yolo County Youth Empowerment Summit on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Photo by Matthew Keys/Winters Express

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introduced several bills over the last year that aim to increase protections for communities afflicted by wildfire threats, including a series of measures that eased some restrictions on tree harvesting in order to accelerate better forest management. Dodd has also emerged as a staunch critic of PG&E and other investor-owned utilities, particularly since those utilities have been found to be at fault for or otherwise implicated in several large wildfires in recent years. In January, PG&E announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection over anticipated liabilities in connection with some of those wildfires. Current law says those utility companies are responsible for overseeing the trimming or removal of trees and vegetation in order to comply with standards set forth by state regulators who oversee wildfire prevention initiatives. Utility companies get to decide which trees or vegetation need to be trimmed or remove to satisfy those requirements. Under Senate Bill 247, that responsibility would oversight of those initiatives to a third-party like Cal Fire or another agency while utilities would incur the cost of such programs. “The public needs to know that there is real, independent oversight, not just someone in an office reviewing paperwork submitted by utilities,” Dodd said in a statement. “This bill will help prevent future wildfires and ultimately reduce costs ratepayers.” Exactly how much the oversight shift will cost remains to be seen.]]>

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