PG&E Not Committing to Expanding Tree-Trimming Force in California

Lawyers for Pacific Gas & Electric said the utility can’t commit to hiring hundreds more tree trimmers in the way that a federal judge wants to cut the risk of starting more catastrophic wildfires in California.

U.S. District Judge William Alsap ordered the utility last month to add at least 1,100 more tree trimmers to help prevent trees and branches from falling onto its power lines and igniting. The judge is overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation imposed after its natural gas lines blew up a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood and killed eight people in 2010. He has taken a strong interest in PG&E’s safety record after the company’s power lines started a series of wildfires that killed 130 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

California Bill Aimed at Property Insurance in Communities Investing in Wildfire Prevention

Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Marin County, has introduced Assembly Bill 3258, which would require property insurance providers to take into consideration local government investments in wildfire prevention when determining insurance rates.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and a group of Legislators earlier this month introduced Assembly Bill 2367, which is being called Renew California. That bill would require admitted insurance companies to write or renew policies for existing homes in communities that meet a new statewide standard for fire-hardening. The bill also would authorize the insurance commissioner to require insurance companies to offer financial incentives for homeowners to do the work to make their homes more fire-safe.

San Francisco Declares State of Emergency Because of Coronavirus

(TNS) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the city Tuesday amid heightened concerns of the new coronavirus' spread around the globe.

But why has the city made this declaration when there aren't any confirmed cases among city residents?

In the interview below, Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of S.F.'s Department of Emergency Management, answers that question. She also addresses many other questions and concerns residents may have as the city prepares for a potential outbreak of the pneumonia-like virus.

PG&E Fires Contractor After Probe Involving California Wildfires

Pacific Gas & Electric has fired a contractor hired to haul debris from the site of a deadly 2018 Northern California wildfire, saying the company was over-billing the utility and paying “large sums of money and gifts” to two utility supervisors.

PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson said in a memo to employees that the two supervisors “are no longer with the company,” The Sacramento Bee reported.

California City Shows How to Retreat from Rising Sea Level

(TNS) — Ten miles north of Monterey and a world away from Santa Cruz, Bruce Delgado gazed up a towering sand dune. Careful not to step on the beach buckwheat that protects rare butterflies or the sea lettuce that survives only in stable habitats, he wound his way toward the ocean.

At the top, slightly out of breath, he marveled at the sandy beach that stretched for miles along the bay. Big surf broke into rhythmic cusps by the shore. A red-tailed hawk soared over his town of Marina, where despite its name, no dock or pier exists to interrupt this view.

Could Companies Be Forced to Insure Homes in Wildfire Zones?

(TNS) — Insurance companies fleeing high-risk fire zones would have to stay put and even offer discounts if homeowners in those areas prepare for wildfires on a community-wide scale, under a new bill proposed in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The bill, AB 2367, has the backing of state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. It would mandate that starting in 2021, insurers would have to renew policies and continue to write new ones in communities that meet state standards for firescaping, or home hardening, that would be established before the law takes effect.

California Utilities’ Wildfire Prevention Plans Call for More Blackouts

California utilities plan to continue shutting off power to customers during dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, but they aim to make outages more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans filed with the state.

Plans by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities said wildfire mitigation plans would build on efforts made last year to reduce the risk their equipment would cause deadly infernos.

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