SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The future of wildfires in California was a big topic Friday as Governor Gavin Newsom laid out a plan to deal with fires. A report released Friday focused on how to stop fires from breaking out, and how to pay for them when they do.
One of the big questions here is: Who’s going to pay for the costs of these wildfires?
The governor is saying these fires are only going to get worse with climate change and that everyone should share the financial burden. Newsom laid out a five-part plan to deal with destructive wildfires, a more than $400 million budget to tackle prevention and early detection. Perhaps the most controversial part of his plan is who will pay for the wildfires in the aftermath.
“If we’re gonna meet this moment, everyone has to participate,” Newsom said.
Governor Newsom said he thinks the costs of the disasters should be shared by investors, insurers, taxpayers, and ratepayers — not solely left for utility companies like PG&RE to pay for.
“We’re in real trouble right now as it relates to these utilities being vulnerable to bankruptcy and liquidation,” Newsom said.
A few recommendations now on the table include a statewide risk pool to spread around the cost of wildfires, creating a catastrophic wildfire fund, and adopting fault-based standards. The report also explored removing strict liability standards that require utility companies to pay when their equipment is at fault.
Newsom emphasized that before any of this happens, the most urgent task at hand is making wildfire victims feel whole again.
He also had some strong words for PG&E, saying there will be no protection if the utility does not also step up and become part of the solution.
“PG&E also has to understand that we mean business as well… if they get in the way of doing the right thing, all options are on the table,” Newsom said.
The ideas presented in Friday’s report will now go through a public comment period and then will be put into a legislative package for lawmakers to mull over. The governor says he hopes some new policies will go into effect before session ends in July and we approach another fire season.