CSAC Urges Wildfire Focus on Safety vs. Shifting Liability
March 6, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Floor, Communications Coordinator
916-327-7500, ext. 516
SACRAMENTO – The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) strongly opposes changes to current utility liability laws and expresses concern over comments made by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) staff at a hearing on Tuesday in the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee. These comments suggest that California needs to make changes to the state’s liability structure because utilities are not abiding by the law.
“Liability laws do not cause wildfires. Our focus — and the CPUC’s focus now and into the future — needs to be on regulating utilities whose equipment has been the cause of a series of deadly wildfires over the past two years,” said CSAC Second Vice President and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, whose county was devastated by 2017 wildfires.
CSAC believes that if utilities are not abiding by the law, or enforcing a corporate culture of safety and preparedness, we should not change our liability laws to protect their bottom line. Liability laws provide the ultimate incentive for utilities to take action, change their practices and invest in critical safety measures that will protective our communities, ratepayers and residents.
“Our system is not perfect, and we support broader reforms that will protect ratepayers and keep our communities safe, said CSAC Executive Director Graham Knaus. “But, changing liability laws and in particular, inverse condemnation, will not incentivize safety and will only push the burden to local governments and victims of fires.”
Counties believe that electricity does not have to come at the expense of public safety. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to reform our system in a way that promotes safety and resiliency, protects ratepayers and holds utilities accountable for negligent actions.
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