Newsom signs bill to bring transparency to PSPS events

Crews work at a Southern California Edison facility in Valencia as the company implements a public safety power shut-off (PSPS) in an effort to mitigate fire risks during dry, windy weather in Santa Clarita on Monday. Bobby Block/The Signal

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday authored by Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, requiring utilities to disclose energy circuits prone to public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events. 

Under the new law, utility companies like Southern California Edison, which provides electricity to the Santa Clarita Valley and most of the Southern California region, will have to identify those circuits and plans to reduce the risks and impacts of PSPS events in the utility’s annually prepared wildfire mitigation plan. 

“What we’ve seen is the same energy circuits getting shut off over and over again, resulting in loss of power to the same tens of thousands of energy customers. These events leave people riddled with frustration, anxiety and anger,” Stern said of Senate Bill 533 in a prepared statement. “SB 533 adds much-needed transparency and accountability with the goal of having utilities fix these circuits and not rely on shutting off the same people’s power again and again.” 

Newsom signed the bill as part of a $1.5 billion climate package consisting of 24 bills focused on climate and clean energy efforts, drought and wildlife preparedness, according to governor’s office. 

Southern California Edison acknowledged the hardships caused by PSPS events.  

“We have heard a clear message from our customers, regulators, government officials, and public safety partners that the company must do more to reduce the need for PSPS. We are currently looking at opportunities to expedite grid hardening to reduce the need for PSPS events and the risk of wildfires,” Edison said on its webpage dedicated to PSPS events. 

The electric utility company has also published a list of circuits frequently impacted by PSPS events in 2020 and a list of circuits where it’s making enhancement to reduce the need for the power shutoffs. 

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