Senate Bill 584 -- Wildfire Mitigation through Undergrounding of Power Lines

March 7, 2019

Summary:

Senate Bill 584 would expedite opportunities for local jurisdictions located in Tier 3 fire-threat areas to underground current overhead electrical infrastructure for wildfire mitigation.

Issue Background:

Overhead utility lines and equipment have caused many devastating blazes, with the equipment of California’s three largest utilities being responsible for igniting over 2,000 fires between 2014 and 2017.

The current utility company solutions of turning off the power and managing vegetation have been largely ineffective. Utility companies propose “hardening” the overhead systems as a means of fire mitigation, but Southern California Edison noted in its Grid Safety and Resilience Program that hardening overhead systems is only 60% as effective as putting overhead systems underground.

Currently, there are methods to aide municipalities in undergrounding their electrical lines. However, the criteria have remained mostly the same over the years and have not adapted to the changing utility dynamics that may necessitate undergrounding for a wider range of reasons, including wildfire mitigation and environmental protection.

CAL FIRE Updates:

  • CAL FIRE Investigators Determine Cause of the Camp Fire – News Release

Articles:

Senator Moorlach presents SB 584 in the Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Senator Moorlach presents SB 584 in the Natural Resources and Water Committee, Wednesday, April 23rd, 2019

Contact:

Megan De Sousa, (916) 651-4037
Megan.DeSousa@sen.ca.gov