New California law helps utilities with wildfire lawsuits

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a measure allowing utilities to bill their customers to pay for future legal settlements stemming from devastating 2017 wildfires.

Brown announced Friday he’d signed the bill, which is aimed at preventing bankruptcy for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The massive utility faces billions of dollars in liability if investigators determine its equipment caused the Tubbs Fire that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 22 people in Santa Rosa last year.

The measure is the most hotly contested part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce the growing threat of wildfires.

The bill also requires investor-owned utilities to harden their equipment so it’s less likely to cause fires. It makes it easier to clear dead trees and brush through controlled burns and other means.

Categories: California News