The Barbed Wire - October 29, 2021

October 29, 2021
Butte County Deputy CAO Testifies in Federal Wildfire Hearing
CPUC Orders PG&E to Respond to Complaints About Rampant Unplanned Outages
RCRC Joins CPUC Proceeding on Affordability of Utility Rates
CPUC Adopts Requirements for IOUs and Telecommunications Providers to Better Communicate with Impacted Communities During Post-Disaster Rebuilds; Modifies Digital Divide Account
White House Releases Pared-Back Framework For A $1.75 Trillion Reconciliation Bill

Butte County Deputy CAO Testifies in Federal Wildfire Hearing

On Tuesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management held a hearing examining the question, “Are FEMA’s Assistance Programs Adequately Designed to Assist Communities Before, During, and After Wildfire?” One of the witnesses was Casey Hatcher, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Butte County. During her testimony, Hatcher told the committee that Butte County relied on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover from the devastating Camp Fire in 2018 but that the agency’s assistance to victims was slow and sometimes confounding. “Now is the time to learn from recent wildfire disasters and update the federal approach to disaster prevention, response and recovery in wildfire-prone communities,” Hatcher told the Subcommittee.


CPUC Orders PG&E to Respond to Complaints About Rampant Unplanned Outages

After receiving numerous complaints by customers, elected officials, as well as RCRC, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Marybel Batjer directed PG&E to take immediate action to support customers and respond to extensive questions about widespread unplanned energy outages. In an effort to reduce the risk of utility wildfire ignitions, PG&E has been making significant infrastructure upgrades, including the installation of new “Fast Trip” devices and settings to instantly stop of the flow of electricity when something comes in contact with a power line. PG&E reports that these improvements have dramatically reduced the risk of wildfire; however, many of those outages have been triggered by light rainfall or contact with wildlife. 

Since PG&E initiated its Fast Trip program, there have been over 500 unplanned outages, with many concentrated in small communities in El Dorado, Tuolumne, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties where they experienced more than a dozen outages each lasting from 12-24 hours. While PG&E recently began recalibrating those devices and installing other hardware to reduce the size and duration of outages, its overall response and communication with customers have been strongly criticized. As Batjer noted, “Fast Trip outages are more than a matter of inconvenience – they are disruptive, and for customers who rely on electricity to maintain necessary life functions, they can be life-threatening.” More to the point, she noted that the way the program was rolled out seems to indicate that “care and understanding for how the loss of power may affect customers has been overwhelmingly absent.”

For more information, contact RCRC Legislative Affairs Advocate, John Kennedy or RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocate, Leigh Kammerich. Special thanks to Supervisor Lori Parlin (El Dorado County), Supervisor Kathleen Haff (Tuolumne County); and Supervisor Jaron Brandon (Tuolumne County) for their leadership on this issue.

RCRC Joins CPUC Proceeding on Affordability of Utility Rates

On October 22nd, RCRC became a formal party to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proceeding to Establish a Framework and Processes for Assessing the Affordability of Utility Service. Many consumers, local governments, and advocacy groups have long complained about rapidly rising electricity costs.  Some of the more recent cost increases have been the result of long-overdue infrastructure upgrades and vegetation management work necessary to reduce the risk of utility wildfire ignition; however, others result from many of the state’s climate change and related policy objectives.  

The CPUC is using this proceeding to evaluate what can be done to reduce customer rate impacts in the coming years. A new phase of the proceeding will consider actions to mitigate future increases in energy costs, rates and bills, as well as recommendations for entities on future increases in energy costs. Many suggestions, such as the potential adoption of a wildfire mitigation surcharge for customers in high fire threat areas, could have a devastating impact on many rural counties. 

Over the next year, RCRC will provide input on these topics and offer other suggestions for ways to reduce ratepayer costs. Given the importance of the issue to many member counties, RCRC will look to its members for specific feedback on these issues. For more information, contact RCRC Legislative Affairs Advocate, John Kennedy, or RCRC Regulatory Affairs Advocate, Leigh Kammerich.

CPUC Adopts Requirements for IOUs and Telecommunications Providers to Better Communicate with Impacted Communities During Post-Disaster Rebuilds; Modifies Digital Divide Account

On October 21st, the CPUC adopted requirements on electric investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and telecommunications providers to ensure better coordination with restoration and rebuild efforts with the CPUC and applicable local jurisdiction after a Gubernatorial or Presidentially declared disaster, such as a wildfire. IOUs and telecommunications providers will be required to detail the equipment that was damaged, provide a detailed description of what is being repaired or replaced (with maps), give a timeline to make needed repairs, detail any changes to infrastructure that may be required, as well as provide the respective utility contact person responsible for community engagement in these instances.  IOUs were also directed to meet with impacted communities within 30 days of being permitted back into a disaster area in order to discuss rebuilding plans and consider feedback. The CPUC’s Decision went so far to admonish IOUs and telecommunications service providers for having the viewpoint that discussing service restoration and rebuilding efforts with the communities they serve is inconvenient.  
Additionally, the CPUC encouraged—but did not require—IOUs to install fiber/conduit during rebuilding efforts. The Broadband Proceeding, however, will continue to explore and leverage opportunities for IOUs to contribute to fiber buildout and installation. Finally, the CPUC Decision also modified the Digital Divide Account to focus the $1 million in grant funds on three small, rural school pilot projects, and one urban pilot project. The CPUC Decision can be found here.

White House Releases Pared-Back Framework For A $1.75 Trillion Reconciliation Bill

On Thursday, the White House released an updated framework and fact sheet for the Reconciliation bill that includes a total of $1.75 trillion in spending over ten years to “guide the drafting of legislative language.” The new spending would be offset by tax increases on corporations and the very wealthy. President Biden met with House Democrats on Capitol Hill to discuss the framework before departing for climate meetings in Europe. During his meeting, President Biden stated his desire for a vote on both the infrastructure and reconciliation bills, but failed to specify a timeframe.


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.


IHSS Training Webinar Hosted by CSAC, November 4 

CSAC is hosting an In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) training webinar in partnership with the County Welfare Directors Association of California (CWDA) and the California Association of Public Authorities (CAPA) on Thursday, November 4 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The training will provide an opportunity for County and Public Authority staff to learn about or refresh their knowledge on the major provisions of the revised IHSS Maintenance of Effort (MOE) that was enacted in 2019, including MOE adjustment provisions, caseload growth, and collective bargaining requirements. In addition, the training will cover new wage, benefit, and collective bargaining provisions that were enacted by AB 135 this year. 

Date: Thursday, November 4
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Register here


Cal OES Hazard Mitigation Summit Postponed to 2022

The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Hazard Mitigation Policy Summit, previously scheduled for November 3, 2021, has been postponed to early 2022. For the latest information, continue to visit the Cal OES, Mitigation Planning website.


Career Opportunities

  • Tehama County Seeks Chief Administrator

Tehama County is seeking a Chief Administrator who will proactively and energetically serve as a leader in carrying out Board policies, and who will be creative in bringing forth options to solve problems. The position closes November 30, 2021 at 5 p.m. View the recruitment flyer, and for more information click here.

  • Yolo Land Trust Seeks Development and Outreach Coordinator

The Yolo Land Trust is recruiting for a Development & Outreach Coordinator to join its small, but mighty team. The position is responsible for the planning, coordination, and operation of the Yolo Land Trust’s development and communication programs; serves as the lead staff for the Land Trust’s community and fundraising events and for the digital communications about the organization; and provides administrative support as needed. For additional information or to apply, view the job announcement here. This position is open until filled.


GO-Biz Cannabis Equity Grants Available for Eligible Local Jurisdictions

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has announced $35 million is available in FY 2021-22 for eligible cities and counties to promote equity and eliminate barriers to populations and communities that were disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition. Local jurisdictions can be awarded up to $75,000 for assistance on cannabis equity program development, or up to $7 million for cannabis equity program applicants and licensees to gain entry to the state’s regulated cannabis marketplace. Grant applications must be received by December 13, 2021 and will be awarded no later than March 15, 2022. For more information on this grant and how to apply, see here

California Air Resources Board Offers Webinars on Regulatory Compliance Training

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is offering a variety of training webinars for regulatory compliance on issues affecting public fleets such as Off-Road Regulations, Truck and Bus Rules, and Diesel Truck Rules. 

The In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) requires fleet owners to report to CARB, label their off-road vehicles, and reduce emissions from older equipment.  This course provides detailed information to help fleet owners understand and comply with the Off-Road Regulation: 

Date:        December 9, 2021
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register

The Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment course include the following topics:

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

Advanced Clean Truck (ACT)

  • Manufacturers ZEV Sales Requirements
  • One-Time Reporting
  • Future ZEV Rules

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

Date:        December 16, 2021
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register

CARB is also offering a new course to provide an overview of several new programs and they associated regulations that will help the state reach carbon neutrality:

Date:        November 9, 2021 (Date change: previously November 11)
Time:        1:00 p.m.
Webinar:   Register


FEMA Announces Application Period for 2021 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began accepting applications on September 30, 2021 for $1.16 billion in FY 2021 Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants, providing localities the opportunity to receive Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grants. These grants recognize the growing hazards of extreme weather events and the need for risk mitigation activities to promote climate adaptation and resilience. The financial assistance through the BRIC program may fund state and local government pre-disaster capability and capacity building activities, mitigation projects, and cover management costs.

FEMA informational webinars can be accessed here, and more information can be viewed here or at The FEMA application period closes on January 28, 2022. 


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox. 


Announcements regarding key staffing changes of importance to California's rural counties.

Ryan Buckley, of West Sacramento, has been appointed Chief Counsel at the California Department of Health Care Access and Information. Buckley has been an Attorney IV for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development since 2018 and Acting Chief Counsel since 2019. He was an Attorney III at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development from 2016 to 2018, where he served as an Attorney from 2014 to 2016. He was Principal for the Law Offices of Ryan A. Buckley from 2011 to 2014, an Associate at Hardy Erich Brown & Wilson LLP from 2008 to 2011 and Outside Counsel for the Children’s Village Healthcare Centers from 2007 to 2008. Buckley was Associate Counsel for Petrovich Development Company from 2004 to 2007, Certified Law Student for the Business and Community Development Clinic from 2002 to 2003 and Small Claims Mediator for the Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission of Sacramento from 2002 to 2003. Buckley earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $175,248. Buckley is registered without party preference.


Elizabeth “Betsy” Dirks, of Hollister, has been appointed County Supervisor for the San Benito County Board of Supervisors, District 1. Dirks has been an Independent Education Consultant since 2005. She was a Teacher at Christopher High School from 2020 to 2021, a Teacher at Gilroy High School from 2001 to 2005 and a Public Relations Account Associate at Walt & Co. Communications from 2000 to 2001. Dirks is a member of the Live Like Geno Foundation, Benito Link – Strategic Planning Committee and the Measure G Citizens’ Oversight Committee. This position does not require Senate confirmation. Dirks is a Democrat.


Brent Houser, of West Sacramento, has been appointed Chief Deputy Director of Operations for the California Department of State Hospitals. Houser has been Deputy Director for the California Department of State Hospitals since 2021. He was Principal Program Budget Analyst for the California Department of Finance from 2019 to 2021 and held multiple positions at the California Department of State Hospitals from 2016 to 2019, including Assistant Budget Officer, Staff Services Manager II and Staff Services Manager I. Houser was a Staff Services Manager I at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development from 2015 to 2016, where he was Health Program Specialist I from 2014 to 2015. He was an Associate Governmental Program Analyst for the Health Professions Education Foundation from 2014 to 2015, where he was a Staff Services Analyst from 2012 to 2013. Houser earned a Master of Arts degree in Public Policy and Administration from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $172,068. Houser is registered without party preference.


Brendan McCarthy, of Davis, has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Program and Fiscal Affairs at the California Health and Human Services Agency. McCarthy has been Assistant Secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency since 2019. He was Chief Consultant for the California State Assembly Committee on Business and Professions from 2018 to 2019, Principal Consultant for the California State Senate Committee on Appropriations from 2009 to 2018 and Senior Fiscal and Policy Analyst at the Legislative Analyst’s Office from 2004 to 2009. McCarthy earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $190,008. McCarthy is a Democrat.


Buffy McQuillen, of Mendocino, has been appointed to the California Native American Heritage Commission. McQuillen is a descendant of Yokayo Pomo, Yuki, Nomlaki and an enrolled Tribal Citizen of Round Valley Indian Tribes. She has been Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer at the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria since 2015. McQuillen held several positions at the Yurok Tribe between 2001 and 2015, including Acting Assistant to the Social Services Director and Youth Outreach Coordinator and Repatriation and Cultural Collections Manager. She was Repatriation Specialist for Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation from 2012 to 2013. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. McQuillen is a Democrat.


Stephanie Weldon, of Humboldt, a member of the Yurok Tribe, has been appointed Director of the Office of Tribal Affairs at the California Department of Social Services. Weldon has been Program Advisor to the California Department of Social Services as an ICWA/Tribal Social Services Specialist for the Children and Families Policy Institute of California since 2020. She was Director of Yurok Health and Human Services from 2019 to 2020 and held multiple positions at the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services from 2013 to 2019, including Child Welfare Director, Social Services Branch Director, Deputy Director of Children and Family Services and Social Worker Supervisor. Weldon was Social Services Director for the Yurok Tribe from 2010 to 2013 and held various Tribal positions from 2002 to 2010, including Interim Public Relations Manager, Executive Secretary, JOM Education Site Supervisor and Social Services Assistant Director. Weldon is a board member of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from Humboldt State University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $122,244. Weldon is a Democrat.