Mar 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

California issues a power mandate for our times

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.

Go deeper: California power crisis charges up battery sales

Go deeper

PG&E reaches bankruptcy deal with California

The Pacific Gas & Electric logo on a truck in Jan. 2019 in San Francisco, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on Friday struck a deal, pledging to help wildfire victims and improve safety in order to emerge from bankruptcy, the New York Times reports.

Catch up quick: PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last January, facing an estimated $30 billion in claims over its potential role in deadly wildfires across the state, and in December agreed to a $13.5 billion settlement with California wildfire victims.

Where tech firms are getting the masks they're donating

Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

U.S. tech firms are donating big supplies of N95 masks, raising questions about why they have them in the first place. It largely comes down to stockpiling for California’s wildfires.

Why it matters: Health care professionals need all the masks they can get their hands on (far more than that, really).

Trump's power-plant carbon rule has conflicting impact

President Trump. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Contributor

The Environmental Protection Agency's rule controlling power plants’ carbon emissions cuts C02 but preserve more coal electricity, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Why it matters: It’s believed to be the first such EIA analysis of the regulation, putting meat on the bones of one of President Trump’s biggest regulatory moves to scale back rules from his predecessor.