On behalf of The Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO), we urge you to support the language presented by Governor Brown’s legislative proposal to protect Californians from the twin threats of natural disasters and climate change. By way of background, The SVO is the Silicon Valley’s premier business advocacy organization representing 1,400+ companies that employ nearly 300,000 workers and we represent our membership as the region’s largest Chamber of Commerce.
Silicon Valley businesses depend on a reliable electrical grid and energy supply in order to power the state’s economy. With wildfires ranging from the Oregon Border all the way down to San Diego, the state must grapple with the reality that we are living in a “new normal” when it comes to climate change and its relation to unprecedented wildfire damage. Last year’s historic wildfires, which have already proven as the worst wildfire season in California’s history, have already damaged about 10,000 buildings and claimed the lives of at least 66 people. The state must take leadership to help prevent future wildfires and deal with the rising costs of wildfires to the public.
As you proceed with a comprehensive legislative solution to protect the public and to protect the financial health of investor-owned utilities, we urge you to adopt the following principles within your legislative package:
Go Forward Fire Mitigation Plan
- The California Public Utilities Commission will adopt a comprehensive wildfire risk mitigation plan for each of the state’s investor owned utilities that recognizes leading practices to reduce the risk of future wildfires.
Cost Recovery Reform
- Cost Recovery must be based on compliance with the approved wildfire plan. This will protect customers and communities, while holding utilities accountable if they did not meet the safety standards approved in the wildfire plan.
Securitization of the 2017 Wildfire Damages
- Securitization will fairly compensate wildfire victims for their losses in a timely manner, will hold the utility accountable once the investigations are complete and significantly lowers costs to customers.
These policy principles would help reduce the risk of wildfire damage, promote cost recovery reform that holds utilities to high safety standards, and provides a low-cost financing mechanism to compensate victims of wildfire damage.
For these reasons, The SVO’s urges you to incorporate these policy recommendations into your final legislative package as you proceed with conference committee negotiations.