Requirements Set Next Level for Utilities to Prioritize Risk and Reduce Causes of Catastrophic Wildfires
SACRAMENTO – The Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (Energy Safety) today adopted its 2023-2025 Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP) Guidelines following public input. The guidelines build upon three years of Energy Safety’s WMP evaluation and assessment expertise and advance a commitment to reduce utility-caused catastrophic wildfire to the next level.
“In the 2020-2022 Guidelines we initiated a first of its kind standard that required the utilities to shift from a focus on compliance to a focus on risk reduction,” said Energy Safety Director Caroline Thomas Jacobs. “With these new 2023-2025 guidelines, we are building upon the last three years to push the utilities to the next level of sophistication in their ability to build, operate, and maintain their infrastructure with minimal wildfire risk.”
- Reorganizing the WMP to improve the narrative flow by restructuring chapters, implementing a “problem solving” framework, and consolidating key technical areas.
- Requiring more in-depth discussion of risk assessments, prioritization, and decision-making by using industry-recognized standards, best practices, and research. This will improve identification of an electrical corporation’s overall risk of wildfires and Public Safety Power Shut-offs specific to its service territory.
- Focusing on coordination with local government and other stakeholders by reorganizing the Emergency Preparedness and Community Outreach and Engagement sections to highlight government agency coordination and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and the public.
- Updating the Wildfire Mitigation Maturity Model to drive continued growth in a utility’s capabilities and its risk-reduction programs and strategies.
Legislation signed into law in 2019, after a series of devastating wildfires, requires California’s eight electrical corporations to produce plans that assess their wildfire risk, propose actions to reduce that risk, and prevent catastrophic wildfires caused by their infrastructure. Energy Safety evaluates those plans annually for approval or denial.
Energy Safety became an independent department under the Natural Resources Agency on July 1, 2021. Between January 2020 and July 2021, Energy Safety was known as the Wildfire Safety Division within the CPUC. This is the third year that the electrical corporations have submitted wildfire mitigation plans, or plan updates, for evaluation.