Gallagher proposes bills to prevent fires

Donovan Corprue

Assemblyman James Gallagher and co-author Jim Nielsen proposed two new bills in support of rebuilding areas damaged by the Camp Fire and to help prevent blazes in the future. 

According to Gallagher, the main goal of both bills is to utilize existing funds to upgrade infrastructure and reduce forest fuel projects. The process would include suspending renewable mandates and reinvesting savings which would lower chances of both power shut-offs and wildfires.

The first law in question is Assembly Bill 1941, which would change the renewable resources obtained by the Public Utilities Commissions from only hydroelectric generation facilities with 30 megawatts or less to all hydroelectric facilities, according to the California Legislative website. 

If passed, the bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Planned power outages took place throughout the later months of 2019 in order to prevent the sparks of more fires in Butte County.

This bill would enforce companies to improve their infrastructure using the money saved annually determined by the PUC. Gallagher plans to team with Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. to proceed with this plan as the main redistributing company of the funds.

According to Gallagher, the bill can be passed to support the electrical grid and reduce carbon emissions. Gallagher claims the bill can proceed “without raising rates on customers.”

The second bill, Assembly Bill 1942, would permit $330,000,000 from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for the 2020-2021 fiscal year which would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by forest fires.

Without the bill, the 2019-20 Budget Act would only allow the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to use $165,000,000. This would be distributed annually through the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

These bills are being proposed along with 22 others passed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year. The bills are meant to help recovery efforts following the fire in Paradise in 2018.

Donovan Corprue can be reached at [email protected]