ICYMI: “Fire risk map for utilities too little and much too late”

Posted on 02 Apr 2018 for representative John Moorlach

ICYMI: “Fire risk map for utilities too little and much too late” By Tom Elias, Orange County Register, March 29, 2018 It was a clear-cut case of too little and too late when the California Public Utilities Commission the other day issued its first-ever map showing where the likelihood of utility-sparked wildfires — often followed by mudslides — is highest. The cows were already out of the barn months before this long-awaited map and its accompanying regulations made their appearance more than 10 years after the map could have and should have been drawn.… If the areas where those alleged incidents supposedly occurred had been mapped earlier than they were, with tougher regulations applied to them, there’s at least a possibility lives, homes, crops and businesses might have been spared…. Creation of the map was first ordered by the PUC shortly after the 2007 Witch fire destroyed at least 1,500 homes and killed 17 persons in San Diego County. Investigators placed the blame for that fire on arcing power lines of the San Diego Gas & Electric Co., which has failed so far in efforts to force consumers to pay more than $300 million in costs not covered by insurance. “The sad part,” Democratic state Sen. Jerry Hill opined just after the Wine Country fires, “is the maps didn’t arrive before these fires … It’s an outrageous example of negligence by a regulatory agency.”… One problem: New map-related rules take effect only gradually, applying after Sept. 1 to areas where fire peril is highest and not until June 30 of next year in other places. Utility companies will have to file annual reports on their fire-prevention efforts in high-risk areas, but the first isn’t due until Oct. 1. These are positive developments that could prevent a lot of future damage. To the PUC’s utter shame, there appears to be no good reason these things could not have happened much earlier.