Mar 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

California issues a power mandate for our times

Construction site as workers fix electricity poles
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

California regulators are requiring power companies to ensure their outreach around wildfires is offered in the languages spoken in their service areas.

Why it matters: The new California Public Utilities Commission rule is the convergence of two big dynamics: wildfire threats that are worsened in part from climate change, and the growing diversity of the nation's most populous state.

Driving the news: The rule requires companies to "conduct outreach to communities and the public before, during and after a wildfire in all languages 'prevalent' in their respective service territories."

  • "Prevalent" means spoken by at least 1,000 people, per the regulation adopted Thursday.

What they're saying: “Up until now, some of our neighbors who were most at risk from wildfires were least able to get timely and accurate information about them,” said Martha Guzman Aceves, a member of the commission.

What's next: The CPUC says it may move to apply the requirements to communications around so-called Public Safety Power Shut-offs.

  • Those are the intentional blackouts that PG&E and others have imposed to cut the risk of downed lines sparking wildfires in windy and dry conditions.

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