SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) – Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to OK sweeping legislation meant to shore up the state’s electric utilities in the face of devastating wildfires.
A California Assembly committee backed the measure in a 10-1 vote Wednesday as lawmakers rushed to pass the bill before going on a monthlong recess Friday.
The measure will require utilities to spend billions on safety improvements while setting up a fund that could help cover claims from wildfires caused by electric company equipment.
But several lawmakers said they did not have enough time to review the bill, which also addresses labor issues and utility regulation.
Democratic Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes says lawmakers are being asked to take a leap of faith on legislation they first saw in print a few weeks ago.
The legislation could also make it harder for local governments to peel off pieces of PG&E for their own electric systems. Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. faces bankruptcy following billions of dollars in claims from catastrophic wildfires. Some cities are exploring buying pieces of the utility’s assets to run parts of the power system on their own.
The bill would task the California Public Utilities Commission with approving a government’s purchase of a power company’s assets and provide enhanced worker protections.
Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener says that would undermine future efforts to create municipal electric utilities.
Labor unions say the bill protects workers in an uncertain time for California’s electric companies.
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants the bill passed by Friday.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)