Approval Now Goes to CPUC for Ratification
SACRAMENTO – The Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (Energy Safety) has released its evaluation and approval of the 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Update submitted by Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
The plan, required by 2018 legislation enacted in the wake of devastating wildfires, documents the utility’s assessment of its wildfire risk and proposed actions to reduce that risk and prevent catastrophic wildfires caused by utility infrastructure. Energy Safety is tasked with evaluating the plans for eight electrical utilities in California.
Utilities submitted and made public their first wildfire mitigation plans for review by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in February 2019. In January 2020, the CPUC’s Wildfire Safety Division was established to oversee and enforce electrical utilities’ compliance with wildfire safety. The division transitioned to the California Natural Resources Agency on July 1, 2021, as the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety, consistent with state statute.
Energy Safety’s final evaluation and approval of PG&E’s plan is now before the CPUC for ratification.
“With wildfire risk intensifying due to climate change, Energy Safety is laser focused on driving continued improvements in the utilities’ wildfire safety capabilities,” Energy Safety Director Caroline Thomas Jacobs said. “While important improvements have been made, there is still much to be done to reorient how the utilities build, operate and maintain their infrastructure to be resilient in our evolving climate.”
Energy Safety identified 29 key areas for improvement and 29 additional issues associated with PG&E’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Update. PG&E is required to report on progress toward addressing the key areas of improvement on November 1, 2021.
In July, Energy Safety approved 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Updates for San Diego Gas & Electric, Liberty Utilities, PacifiCorp, Horizon West and Trans Bay Cable. Those approvals were ratified by the CPUC on July 15. The 2021 plan update for Southern California Edison was approved by Energy Safety in August and ratified by the CPUC on August 19. The 2021 plan update for Bear Valley Electric Service, Inc. was approved by Energy Safety in September and ratified by the CPUC on September 9.
Evaluation of Wildfire Mitigation Plan updates is an element of Energy Safety’s mission to drive improvements in utilities’ wildfire safety capabilities and ensuring compliance.
In other work to date, Energy Safety:
- Completed an Enhanced Vegetation Management Audit on February 8, 2021, that led to the CPUC’s placement of PG&E in Step 1 of its Enhanced Oversight Enforcement.
- Published an Independent Evaluator Annual report on Compliance for PG&E’s 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plan, which will be incorporated into Energy Safety’s final report on 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plan compliance available here.
- Since May of 2020 completed 2,460 field inspection activities on PG&E assets and wildfire mitigation activities which have resulted in 179 defects identified for resolution.
- Continues to monitor quarterly progress on 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan activities.
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