On Wednesday, RCRC submitted comments to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Wildfire Safety Division on their Draft Utility Wildfire Mitigation Strategy and Roadmap. The Wildfire Safety Division, within the CPUC, is charged with ensuring electrical utilities reduce their wildfire risk, primarily through the development and execution of Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans. In 2021, the Wildfire Safety Division will transition from the CPUC to the California Natural Resources Agency (pursuant to 2019 legislation) and, in preparation of that move, developed a strategic roadmap and vision for a sustainable California that has access to safe, affordable and reliable electricity with no catastrophic utility-caused wildfires. This roadmap was developed in consultation with many state agencies, perhaps most notably with the Forest Management Task Force which has unique insight to one of the most common causes of utility-related wildfire ignitions: contact with vegetation.
RCRC is encouraged by the Wildfire Safety Division’s foundational principle of ensuring the utility wildfire mitigation strategy have a local lens to account for differences in wildfire risk exposure in various communities and take a more strategic approach, as well as be rooted in effective collaboration between stakeholders, long-term resilience and adaptation, and make risk-informed, data-supported decisions. Utilities must deepen their collaboration with an array of state and local agencies, as well as communities, rather than overly rely on Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS) and other costly standalone programs and activities as a central wildfire mitigation tool.
To view the Wildfire Safety Division’s Draft Roadmap and Strategy, see here. Comments will be accepted through June 30, 2020.