Lawmakers Worried About Fires Propose Tighter Control Of PG&E

Megan Goldsby
February 19, 2020 - 10:20 am
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) workers remain at the scene of a three-alarm fire that started after a construction crew hit a gas line on February 07, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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A new bill proposed in the state legislature Tuesday would give district attorneys more authority to make PG&E comply with wildfire safety regulations. 

Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan of Orinda, one of the bill's co-authors, said it would give local authorities more opportunity to enforce safety regulations for power utilities.

Right now, the California Public Utilities Commission is the only organization with the authority to enforce regulations, she said. 

“I think we’ve seen that we can’t trust the utilities to do the work they need to do to prevent these fires that they’re causing,” Bauer-Kahan said. “So it is absolutely incumbent upon us and local agencies to enforce these regulations and keep our communities safe.”

Enforcement would include monitoring tree-trimming and maintaining electrical wires.

“PG&E is reviewing the bill and has not taken a position,” the utility said in a statement. “We share the Legislature’s focus on safety and recognize that California’s utilities must take a leading role in reducing the risk of wildfire."

Other key lawmakers supporting the bill include Orinda state Sen. Steve Glaser of Orinda and state Sen. Jerry Hill, a prominent PG&E critic from San Mateo.