​CPUC Advances Wildfire Community Awareness and Public Outreach Efforts

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued Decision 20-03-004 establishing new community awareness and public outreach requirements and establishing a procedural path for future policymaking on utility wildfire mitigation plans.

The decision requires all jurisdictional electric utilities to conduct outreach to communities and the public before, during and after a wildfire in all languages “prevalent” in their respective service territories. A language is “prevalent” if it is spoken by 1,000 or more persons in the utility service territory, and shall include languages spoken by members of indigenous communities that work in California’s agricultural economy. Each large and small electric utility will have until May 15 to demonstrate to the Commission’s satisfaction that it meets this requirement.

The decision further sets a May 30 deadline for the electric utilities to prepare, file and serve the results of an independent survey that assesses the effectiveness of their community outreach in 2019. For the 2020 wildfire season, the survey results are due no later than December 31, 2020.

The decision provides procedural guidance regarding coordination between the newly created Wildfire Safety Division, which has been tasked with independent oversight of the 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plans (WMPs), and this proceeding, in which the CPUC will consider templates, maturity model, data, requests, and development of metrics related to the WMPs. This decision also approves and/or provides guidance regarding deficiencies in the advice letters submitted by the electric utilities pursuant to Decision 19-05-036 to establish “off-ramps” for certain mitigation measured proposed in their 2019 WMPs. Work on wildfire issues will continue in several other rulemaking dockets, including the Disaster Relief (R.18-03-011), Public Safety Power Shutoff/De-Energization (R.18-12-005), and Microgrids and Resiliency (R.19-09-009) proceedings.

ESHD attorneys are monitoring wildfire and public safety proceedings at the CPUC, other agencies and the California Legislature. For more information, contact Lynn Haug or Ron Liebert.