On Monday, the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (Energy Safety) published a Draft Decision approving PG&E’s 2023-2025 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. All electrical utilities are required to construct, maintain, and operate their lines and equipment to minimize the risk of a utility-caused wildfire and undertake comprehensive mitigation measures through a Wildfire Mitigation Plan. This year, utilities filed comprehensive plans that cover a three-year period describing how the respective utility is calculating risk, prioritizing infrastructure upgrades, and choosing mitigation strategies. Energy Safety evaluates the completeness of a WMP; considers a maturity model and survey; identifies potential revisions; and issues strategies for continued improvement. This while the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ultimately determines ratepayer costs during a utility’s General Rate Case.  

Among Energy Safety’s numerous recommendations for future improvement, the agency will require PG&E to update its procedures for wood management of woody debris and large diameter logs and include wood management commitments. RCRC has continuously advocated not only for PG&E to clear the backlog of felled hazard trees from its legacy Enhanced Vegetation Management program but has also repeatedly requested that PG&E’s WMP contain clear, durable assurances of wood haul (upon request) throughout all its vegetation management programs. Energy Safety noted that PG&E’s wood management approach diverges from other utilities and does not recognize the safety benefits of reducing the accumulation of woody debris to its customers, also noting that “a potential benefit could be increased willingness of property owners to allow PG&E to remove hazardous vegetation if large wood removal services were offered at no- or low- cost.” In 2024, PG&E will submit a 2025 WMP Update and report on its progress, including these identified areas of improvement.  

For questions, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, Leigh Kammerich.