Senator Jerry Hill Holds Hearing in State Capitol on Public Safety Power Shutoffs: What’s Being Done to Ensure They are Conducted Wisely and Safely During Wildfire Threats

August 12, 2019

 

UPDATE: The hearing will live stream at https://www.senate.ca.gov. To view, go to Today’s Events in the far right module of the home page; scroll to Committee Hearings à ENERGY, UTILITIES AND COMMUNICATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON GAS, ELECTRIC AND TRANSPORTATION SAFETY. A “WATCH” button will appear a few minutes before the hearing. Click “WATCH.”

Office of State Senator Jerry Hill
Media Advisory: Hearing, 10 AM Today, Wednesday, in the State Capitol

Senator Jerry Hill Holds Hearing in State Capitol on Public Safety Power Shutoffs:
What’s Being Done to Ensure They are Conducted Wisely and Safely During Wildfire Threats

WHAT: State Senator Jerry Hill, as chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Gas, Electric and Transportation Safety, holds a hearing today on electric utility de-energization, better known as Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

The hearing, entitled “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Preparing for Electric Utility De-Energization,” will examine what utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission are doing to ensure that de-energization is used wisely as a strategy to prevent wildfires. Questions that will be raised include: What are utilities, state agencies and local governments doing to heighten public safety when de-energization occurs? What are communities doing to prepare for shutoffs? How do we ensure that de-energization is pursued as a temporary strategy, rather than a standard operating procedure?

WHEN: 10 AM, Today, Wednesday, August 14

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 3191, Sacramento

WHO: Representatives of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the California Independent System Operator, the CPUC, PG&E, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, the California Solar + Technology Association, the Center for Accessible Technology, the City of Healdsburg, the City of San Jose and the East Bay Municipal Utility District are planning to participate as panelists during the hearing.

HOW to WATCH: The hearing will live stream at https://www.senate.ca.gov. To view, go to Today’s Events in the far right module of the home page; scroll to Committee Hearings à ENERGY, UTILITIES AND COMMUNICATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON GAS, ELECTRIC AND TRANSPORTATION SAFETY. A “WATCH” button will appear a few minutes before the hearing. Click “WATCH.”

BACKGROUND & RESOURCES:

De-energizing electric lines – the result of proactive steps taken by electric utilities to re-route or shut off energy to certain circuits – historically has been used as a last resort, stopgap safety measure by Southern California utilities in extreme wind and fire conditions. In July 2018, the CPUC extended de-energization protocols to all investor-owned electric utilities.

However, de-energization creates a dilemma: During extreme conditions, keeping power on can hugely magnify wildfire risks; downed lines can ignite fires. Yet shutting off the power also can affect first-responders and others who require a constant power source, as well as impacting communities. An appropriate de-energization protocol must balance unintended consequences with the benefits of this wildfire prevention strategy. Senator Hill is conducting the hearing to examine what is being done to maximize public safety while minimizing unintended consequences and potentially adverse impacts.

See the hearing agenda here and a background paper on the hearing and de-energization issues here.

 

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov, 415-298-3404 cell