The Barbed Wire - May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020
RCRC June Board Meeting Will Occur Virtually
California Coalition Urges Significant Federal Investment in Infrastructure
Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1130 (Gonzalez) – Telecommunications: California Advanced Services Fund
Paycheck Protection Program Reforms Move Forward in Congress
CPUC Approves PG&E’s Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan
CPUC Adopts Additional Guidelines for Utilities In Advance of Wildfire Season
State Begins Next Phase of Camp Fire Clean-up in Butte County
Rural Broadband Efforts
Cannabis Banking

RCRC June Board Meeting Will Occur Virtually

The June meeting of the RCRC Board of Directors will occur over Zoom, rather than as a gathering in either Merced County or the offices of RCRC in Sacramento County. RCRC Chair, Supervisor Daron McDaniel of Merced County, made the announcement in a message to members of the RCRC Board of Directors on Thursday. This decision is a result of many factors, including State and Sacramento County public health orders, as counties progress through various stages of re-opening. At this time, RCRC staff and officers remain hopeful that the September Board of Directors meeting can be held in Merced County, likely to occur on September 17-18. RCRC staff, in consultation with RCRC leadership, will continue to monitor the situation closely.

California Coalition Urges Significant Federal Investment in Infrastructure

On Wednesday, a coalition of California businesses, trade associations, and workers groups - including RCRC - sent a letter to leadership in the House of Representatives urging the inclusion of significant federal investment in infrastructure in the next stimulus package to “accelerate our economic recovery and get Californians back to work.”

In line with these calls for infrastructure investment, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to proceed with a surface transportation bill markup in late June. The Committee is likely to reserve an entire week for the markup to provide time to work through procedural challenges and technical difficulties associated with what is expected to be a virtual event. The markup is expected to be highly partisan. Democrats will likely move a bill that mirrors the outline released in January by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and there has been little communication between Democrats and Republicans since its introduction. The total price tag is expected to be in the $500 billion range, with possible additions to back-fill state budgets for underfunded but pre-approved projects.

Bill of the Week: Senate Bill 1130 (Gonzalez) – Telecommunications: California Advanced Services Fund

RCRC and a coalition of stakeholders voiced its support for Senate Bill 1130, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). SB 1130 would reform the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program to require high-speed broadband infrastructure deployment in order to be eligible for state funding. Current law allows local governments to be eligible for funding only if no other service provider applies to fund a project in that area.

Specifically, SB 1130 requires awardees of CASF funding to build high-speed, future proof networks in unserved areas, and allows for middle-mile project funding if that infrastructure is “open access” to service providers. This bill would also make local governments eligible for CASF funding to deploy broadband infrastructure in unserved and high poverty areas.

Bringing reliable, high-speed internet access to RCRC member counties is essential for economic growth, providing basic health care services and ensuring public safety in rural communities. From distance learning to emergency evacuation notifications, telecommunication systems have become the backbone of daily life and need to be enhanced in rural communities. The current structure of the CASF program allows very little opportunity for rural local governments to obtain a reliable broadband network for their residents.

On Tuesday, SB 1130 passed out of the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee on a 11-2 vote, and will be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee in the next couple weeks. A coalition support letter for the bill can be found here.

In a newspaper article published last week, RCRC Legislative Advocate Tracy Rhine spoke about these important issues and highlighted RCRC’s ongoing advocacy efforts to expand broadband access to rural areas in California. The article is available here.

Paycheck Protection Program Reforms Move Forward in Congress

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to provide businesses with more flexibility while using loans provided through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R. 6886) would give small businesses up to 24 weeks, up from the current eight weeks, to use the loans and extend the deadline for rehiring workers from June 30th to the end of this year. It would also give small businesses the ability to spend more of the loan money on non-payroll costs. The current terms of the loans require recipients to use 75 percent of the funds on payroll and up to 25 percent on other costs to qualify for loan forgiveness. This updated legislation would change the ratio to at least 60 percent on payroll and up to 40 percent on rent, overhead and other costs. The bill passed the House easily by a vote of 417-1 and is expected to pass the Senate next week with a few adjustments, including extending the time frame for small businesses to spend the funds to 16 weeks, rather than 24.

CPUC Approves PG&E’s Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved the reorganization plan of PG&E as part of its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding, which included refinancing debt and other safety and governance-related changes. These provisions were incorporated so that PG&E can access AB 1054 wildfire financing for liabilities that arise after July 12, 2019.

The CPUC determined PG&E’s plan is ratepayer neutral. Specifically, PG&E’s Reorganization Plan provides:

  • $13.5 billion (cash and common stock) for payment of individual and other wildfire claims
  • $11 billion (cash) to satisfy insurance subrogation claims
  • $9.575 billion in existing debt claims reinstated
  • $11.85 billion in existing debt refinanced with newly issued debt
  • Securitization of up to $7.5 billion of future revenues to pay wildfire claims;
  • Payment in full of general unsecured claims and other liabilities and employee-related claims
  • Assumption of all power purchase agreements and community choice aggregation agreements
  • Assumption of all pension obligations and collective bargaining agreements with labor
  • Suspension of issuance of a common dividend for three years, which will contribute $4 billion to pay down debt and invest in the business
  • Using interest rate savings from refinancing pre-petition debt for the benefit of ratepayers

The CPUC established enhanced oversight and enforcement of PG&E’s safety performance, including a change in the management structure of PG&E and Board of Directors compensation structure. As part of that revised governance structure, PG&E will return to a regional governance model that is more responsive to local needs.

CPUC’s decision paves the way for 1) wildfire victims to receive compensation for their losses per their settlement agreement, and 2) PG&E to participate in the Wildfire Insurance Fund to pay future eligible claims to wildfire victim if the wildfire was caused by utility infrastructure.

The full decision of the CPUC can be found here.

CPUC Adopts Additional Guidelines for Utilities In Advance of Wildfire Season

As wildfire season looms and Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS) are likely, on Thursday the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted additional and modified measures on how utilities are to conduct PSPS events going forward. Given the unacceptable execution of the broad-based de-energization events in 2019, including the lack of coordination with local governments, these new and improved requirements are designed to facilitate more localized planning and communication and to minimize the harms associated with PSPS events, especially on vulnerable populations.

Among the new requirements are:

  • Ensuring utilities better address community needs, such as convening quarterly regional working groups and advisory boards, as well as conducting tabletop exercises to better execute PSPS events; and
  • Minimizing the scope, duration, and impact of PSPS events by ensuring critical infrastructure remains operational (such as back-up generation), that electric service is restored within 24 hours of a weather all-clear, and to finalize Community Resource Center plans in consultation with local communities to ensure the needs of impacted customer are met.

The Phase 2 Decision can be accessed here, and RCRC’s comments can be viewed here. RCRC has also requested, along with other local government stakeholders, that the CPUC issue an emergency order setting PSPS protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic; that motion can be viewed here.

State Begins Next Phase of Camp Fire Clean-up in Butte County

Earlier this week, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) launched the next phase of California’s clean-up efforts associated with the Camp Fire in Butte County as the agency prepares to remove hundreds of thousands of fire damaged trees in the Town of Paradise and surrounding communities. The agency will award four contracts to manage and remove hazardous trees that pose a hazard to the public safety of residents who are or will be living in and around the area that was ravaged by the fire.

The 2018 Camp Fire devastated Butte County, taking 85 lives and destroying more than 18,000 homes and other buildings in Paradise, Concow and Magalia over a two and a half week period. Since then, CalRecycle has largely been tasked by the state with physical clean-up and recovery efforts, and completed its structural debris removal program in November 2019. With the debris removal completed, CalRecycle can now move forward with its tree removal program while Butte County’s residents work to continue rebuilding their communities. “Leftover hazard trees from the Camp Fire pose a huge public safety concern for those traveling roads within the fire footprint as well as our residents workIng to rebuild and get back home,” said Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter, who also serves as RCRC Water and Natural Resources Committee Vice Chair. “Butte County is excited about this next stage of the cleanup and appreciates the State’s continued help to restore Concow, Magalia, Paradise and the unincorporated areas while folks continue to recover, rebuild and invest in the area.”

CalRecycle will approach the program in two stages: first, identification of hazard trees by certified foresters and arborists, followed by removal of those trees by licensed timber operators. The agency is working with Butte County to secure right-of-entry agreements from affected property owners, having received responses from two-thirds of impacted landowners so far.

For more information on CalRecycle’s Camp Fire tree removal efforts, visit CalRecycle’s website here.

Rural Broadband Efforts

On Thursday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) unveiled the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act (H.R. 7022) which would fast-track the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) timeline for providing $16 billion in rural broadband subsidies as soon as this summer. Under the current schedule, the FCC will allow telecom providers to begin bidding for these Rural Digital Opportunity Fund subsidies in October. Representative Clyburn’s push contradicts warnings from House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee Chair Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) who tweeted Wednesday the FCC plan “will fail to get broadband to the places that need it most.” Responding to these concerns, Representative Clyburn's proposal anticipates simultaneously appropriating millions of dollars for creation of new maps by October 1st. In the U.S. Senate, Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) has also expressed interest in a speedier timeline for dispensing the funds.

Cannabis Banking

Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado), the lead sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, said last week that he believes there is a 50-50 chance the Republican-controlled Senate will go along with including provisions of the Act in a coronavirus relief bill. The House of Representatives included the provision in the HEROES Act, which secured passage in the House earlier this month. However, Republicans in both houses of Congress have largely opposition to the move. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) described the HEROES Act marijuana provisions as "crazy stuff." However, Republican Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), who is up for re-election in November, has taken issue with his Republican colleagues' rhetoric on marijuana language being included in coronavirus relief bills and expects a cannabis banking vote in the U.S. Senate by the end of the year.


Job Posting- Shasta County Director of Housing/Community Action Programs

The county of Shasta is accepting applications through 5:00 PM on June 5, 2020 for the position of Director of Housing/Community Action Programs. Details are available here, or click here to apply now.


Career Opportunity- SRTA Chief Fiscal Officer

Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA) is seeking a Chief Fiscal Officer. Position details are available here. The position is open until filled. See the SRTA website for updates and submission information.


Public Forums Announced for Southern California Edison’s Proposed Rate Increase on Electric Customers

Public Forums to discuss Southern California Edison’s 20.5% rate increase request with the California Public Utilities Commission has been scheduled to occur on Tuesday, June 30th and Wednesday, July 1st at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. each day. To participate and make public comments at that time, call 1-800-857-1917, passcode 1673482, or you may view the public meeting here. For the full public notice, see here.


CARB Announces Upcoming Informational Webinars for Public Agencies

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced upcoming informational overviews for public agencies on a variety of air quality regulations and how to comply.

Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment

Course topics include the following:

Truck and Bus Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Engine Model Year Schedule
  • Exemptions & Extensions
  • How to Report for Regulation Flexibilities
  • Broker and Dispatcher Requirements
  • DMV Registration

Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP):

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Program Updates

In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation:

  • Regulation Applicability
  • Requirements Currently in Effect
  • Future Compliance Deadlines

Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) & Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM):

  • PERP Eligibility
  • Program Requirements
  • ATCM Program & Updates
  • Enforcement & Inspections

A webinar took place on May 28, 2020. If you missed it, there is one more opportunity to attend.

DATE:     June 9, 2020
TIME:     1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:   Register

Air Regulatory Overview for Public Agencies in California

This course is an overview of air regulations that public agencies in California have compliance requirements including:

  • Idling Limitations;
  • On-Road Public Fleet Regulation;
  • In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation;
  • Periodic Smoke Inspection Program; and
  • Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP).

DATE:     June 29, 2020
TIME:     1:00 p.m.
WEBINAR:  Register


Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Holds Weekly Webinars to Answer Questions on New CEQA Process

Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg; 2013) requires a new process to analyze transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to vehicle miles traveled (VMT); more information can be found here. In order to answer questions that may arise as implementation nears for this new CEQA metric, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) will hold weekly “Office Hours” on a variety of topics from May 20th to June 24th. Please note that May 27th specifically focuses on rural implementation. Register here.

May 20, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Deeper Dive: Details on VMT Assessment Methods

May 27, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Implementing "743" in Rural Areas

June 3, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Other Land Uses Beyond Residential, Office, and Retail

June 10, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
Tiering, Other Legal Topics

June 17, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
To Be Determined

June 24, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon
To Be Determined


RCRC Annual Meeting in Napa County Cancelled

The RCRC Annual Meeting 2020 has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This meeting was scheduled to occur in Napa County this September. Several factors led to this difficult decision, most notably, current and future state and local government guidelines. Planning is underway to hold a future Annual Meeting in Napa – most likely in 2022 – in order to enjoy the beauty of the County as well as contribute to its economic recovery. More information on the return to Napa will be forthcoming after consideration and action by the RCRC Board of Directors.


PG&E Announces Weekly Public Webinars on Wildfire Safety and PSPS Mitigation Efforts

PG&E announced a schedule of public webinars at which it will provide information on local Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) and wildfire safety efforts, including how it will make PSPS events smaller in size and shorter in duration, efforts to install new grid technology and harden electrical infrastructure, and enhanced vegetation management activities.

Webinars will take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Webinars have taken place for Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Lassen, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, and Yuba Counties. Upcoming webinars are scheduled as follows:

  • June 3 – San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties (join webinar here)
  • June 10 – Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin Counties (join webinar here)
  • June 17 – Mendocino and Lake Counties (join webinar here)
  • June 24 – Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties
  • July 1 – Humboldt, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties
  • July 8 – Glenn, Tehama, and Shasta Counties
  • July 15 – Alpine, Tuolumne, and Mariposa Counties
  • July 22 – Merced, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties
  • July 29 – San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties
  • August 5 – Tulare, Madera, and Fresno Counties

See a full schedule, find information to join a webinar by phone, or view past presentations here. Check back for links to future webinars.


Resource pages, deadline extensions, and available programs to assist communities impacted by COVID-19.

DWR Provides Tips for Holding Online Meetings to Address Groundwater Sustainability Plans


As Groundwater Sustainability Plans are being developed to meet the January 2022 deadline, several counties (and water agencies) have asked for advice for engaging stakeholders and interested parties through online resources. In response to community interest, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Sustainable Groundwater Management Office has put together examples, tips, and tactics to consider. The DWR tips are available here.


Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. After initial funding was quickly depleted, the program received an infusion of an additional $310 billion, allowing the SBA to resume the program on April 27, 2020. Be sure to check the SBA website for the most recent information on the application process and availability of funds.
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans can be used to bridge the gap for businesses while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan; small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  • SBA Debt Relief provides a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are interested in programs for other disasters, the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance portal is available here.


Economic Development Resources for Communities and Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) has assembled resources for communities and business impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The page will be continually evolving as new resources become available. To go directly to the CALED resources, click here.


Use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Infectious Disease Response

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds may be used for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Check out the Quick Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response for guidance and additional information.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event. We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources. CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.