Law would require California utility companies to pay customers for intentional shutoffs

State News

SACRAMENTO (KGET) — A proposed law that would require companies like PG&E to compensate customers for intentional power shut offs cleared its first hurdle in the legislature Wednesday.

“It’s about giving utilities an incentive to use planned blackouts as a scalpel and not as a sledge hammer,” said Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco). 

Wiener’s proposal to hold utility companies accountable in massive power shut offs faced its first legislative test Wednesday.

The law would put a system in place to try to bring balance to the intentional black outs that interrupted the lives of millions of Californians last fire season.

In some cases, the law would allow customers to be compensated for lost resources.

Representatives for PG&E and other utilities said Wednesday they’re opposed, saying it could discourage them from using what they consider an important safety measure.

“This bill we think sets up the wrong incentive structure and penalizes us when we try to do the right thing to keep the public safe,” said Adam Smith, with Southern California Edison. 

Despite a handful of democrats also sharing that concern, the committee passed the bill 10-1.

Senators acknowledge policies for future planned blackouts might be better in the hands of the governor and state regulators.

“The Governor and the PUC are working closely to develop certain metrics around the future of blackouts, and I think that’s where this issue needs to be addressed,” said Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).

This bill now heads to the Senate appropriations committee and if passed, this could be heard on the Senate floor in the coming weeks. 

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