Another Extended Fire Season for Santa Cruz, California

(TNS) - As California continues to grapple with heightened wildland fire risk, Santa Cruz — with less exposure to risk than some areas — is readying for its worst-case scenarios.

As a rule, late summer and early fall is when fire response statewide and across jurisdictional borders tends to be hard and fast — stopping the conflagrations before they have time to take hold, according to Santa Cruz Fire Chief Jason Hajduk. Leading up to the fire season, however, the city has been doing extensive preventative work, creating “defensible space” that can stop a spreading fire in its tracks.

California Safety Board Oks Regulation to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has adopted an emergency regulation designed to protect workers from hazards associated with wildfire smoke.

The regulation is expected to go into effect in early August and be effective for one year. It applies to workplaces where the current Air Quality Index for airborne particulate matter is 151 or greater, and where employers should reasonably anticipate that employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke.

California Hopes Emergency Projects Guard Against Wildfires

(TNS) — After battling the most destructive wildfires in California’s history over the past two years, Cal Fire is rolling out emergency fuel reduction projects to help protect the state’s most vulnerable communities.

The 35 projects span the state, from Siskiyou to San Diego counties. One crucial effort in the Sacramento area, the North Fork American River Shaded Fuel Break, is a fuel break project that covers 850 acres around the city of Colfax in Placer County.

A fuel break is an area of land where vegetation has been transformed to make fires more controllable, Cal Fire officials told reporters Thursday at the Colfax project site. Methods involve chipping and prescribed burning.

California Governor Wants Wildfire Fund to Help Utilities

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pressing lawmakers on a wildfire fund that may be financed through bonds to help utilities pay for the catastrophic blazes their power lines keep igniting, according to people familiar with the proposal.

Newsom is proposing a so-called liquidity fund that could be seeded by at least $10 billion in Department of Water Resources bonds, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The administration may also ask utilities to contribute about $7.5 billion in equity, the people said.

Bird Knocks Out 84% of Massive California Solar Farm

An “avian incident” sparked a fire at one of California’s biggest solar farms, affecting 1,200 acres and knocking out 84% of the California Valley Solar Ranch’s generating capacity.

The June 5 incident didn’t damage solar panels at the 250-megawatt power plant, but distribution poles and cables need to be replaced, according a regulatory filing Wednesday from owner Clearway Energy Inc. The company didn’t say exactly how the blaze was ignited.

California Heat Stokes Fire Risk, Residents Asked to Curb Power Use

A second day of unrelenting heat is scorching California, sending temperatures to near record levels, raising risk of wildfires and prompting calls for energy conservation.

Temperatures surged past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Northern California Tuesday, with heat advisories in effect across the state. Sacramento was forecast to hit 103 degrees.

More Electricity Outages to Hit California. How to Prepare

(TNS) — The era of available electricity whenever and wherever needed is officially over in wildfire-plagued California.

Pacific Gas & Electric served stark notice of that “new normal” this past weekend when it pre-emptively shut power to tens of thousands of customers in five Northern California counties. The utility warned that it could happen again, perhaps repeatedly, this summer and fall as it seeks to avoid triggering disastrous wildfires.

The dramatic act has prompted questions and concerns: What criteria did PG&E use? Did the shutdowns prevent any fires? And what can residents do to prepare for what could be days without electricity?

California Utilities Plan for the Dry, Hot Fire ‘Season’

(TNS) — With temperatures soaring and strong winds blowing through forests across Northern California over the weekend, rural areas in the Sierra Nevada foothills plunged into darkness after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shut off high-voltage transmission lines to avoid sparking wildfires.

The first formal deployment of its new Public Safety and Power Shutoff rules left more than 20,500 PG&E customers in portions of Butte and Yuba counties without power as 260 utility personnel conducted safety patrols, repaired electric infrastructure and inspected 800 miles of transmission and distribution lines, officials said.

PG&E Restructuring Plan Upped to $45B by Creditors

A group of PG&E Corp. creditors could preempt the embattled California utility’s own attempt to claw its way out of bankruptcy by presenting a restructuring plan that could be worth at least $45 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The plan builds on a proposal floated earlier this year. The updated plan includes substantially more cash for compensating existing wildfire victims, establishing a new statewide wildfire liability fund and recapitalizing PG&E, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Bankruptcy Judge Approves PG&E $105 Million Assistance Fund for Wildfire Victims

PG&E Corp. may set up a $105 million housing fund for victims of 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California, which set records for devastation and were blamed on the utility’s equipment, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy of the investor-owned power producer ruled on Wednesday.

Creditors, which include wildfire victims, are fighting for funds as PG&E navigates bankruptcy stemming from the blazes and as the state plans for increasingly long and dangerous fire seasons its officials attribute to climate change.

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