SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) introduced state legislation last week they say will send more money towards utility infrastructure upgrades and forest fuel reduction projects.
The proposals are only a couple of the bills introduced by California lawmakers to increase oversight of utilities and funnel more resources towards community wildfire resilience since the legislature reconvened in early January. The bills were introduced in the Assembly by Gallagher. Nielsen is the main coauthor in the Senate.
One of the bills, Assembly Bill 1941, would temporarily pause the state’s renewable power mandates until the utilities improve their infrastructure. The state’s renewable energy standard requires utilities to obtain half of California’s overall energy mix from renewable sources by 2030. Gallagher and Nielsen want Pacific Gas & Electric, Corp. to redirect spending on renewable energy towards upgrading its equipment. One of their main goals, they say, is to eliminate planned outages during periods of high fire risk, which utility leaders have said could continue for 10 years. They also want to reduce uncontrolled wildfires that spew carbon into the air, offsetting much of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the energy sector.