Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Deadly fire brings more scrutiny to California utilities

Scorched power line remain along the road on Thursday September 17, 2015 in Anderson Springs, Calif.
Scorched power line remain along the road on Thursday September 17, 2015 in Anderson Springs, Calif.

The state’s largest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., is facing fallout from the devastation of the Butte Fire, with a growing body of lawsuits alleging power line mismanagement led to the blaze.

Today a Senate Committee on utility infrastructure safety will look at the level of risk and how utilities have added new safeguards since an especially destructive 2007 fire season in which power lines ignited at least four infernos. The committee is led by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who has dogged utilities over potential negligence and back-channel communications relating to the San Bruno pipeline explosion in his district.

Testimony will come from the three major utilities – PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric – as well as officials from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Public Utilities Commission during today’s hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. in San Francisco. If you’re not down in the fog but want to follow along you can watch a livestream here.

WATER CENTRAL: Drought stakes are high in the Central Valley, where thirsty agriculture dominates and small communities are running out of potable water. A panel in Clovis will examine how water issues play out in the region, with a conversation between parties that include California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and California Department of Water Resources head Mark Cowin, as well as locals representing agricultural and environmental perspectives.

LEAD-HERS: We know that women are underrepresented in elected offices, but what about in executive positions? UC Davis researchers Amanda Kimball and Ann Huff Stevens will be discussing their survey of women serving as executive officers or directors of California organizations during a 10:30 a.m. briefing in room 3191 of the Capitol.

KIDKARE: Tens of thousands of kids with debilitating genetic diseases, chronic conditions or serious injuries will be seeing changes to the care they get via the California Children’s Services Program. The Department of Health Care Services has proposed altering the program, which currently serves around 180,000 people, and a Senate Health Committee hearing will vet the proposal by calling upon medical professionals and Department of Health Care Services head Jennifer Kent. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Los Angeles.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert