Assembly bill would force utilities to better prepare for disasters

A bill to improve emergency and disaster preparedness among California utilities was unanimously approved this week by a committee in the state Assembly.

AB 1650, introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), requires public utilities to hold comprehensive disaster preparedness meetings every two years with the counties and cities they service in order to improve readiness for natural disasters.

“In the wake of the fierce winds and power outages that caused so much damage in Southern California late last year, we need to look at these events in a different way,” said Portantino in a statement. “By requiring utilities to conduct public preparedness hearings every two years, we will be better able to coordinate response time, service and public safety.”

A recent report commissioned by Southern California Edison found the utility could be better prepared for a major disaster and could have cut its response time if better preparation measures had been in place.

A fierce windstorm hit Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank last December, knocking out power to nearly 250,000 customers, some of them for more than a week.

A preliminary report from the California Public Utilities Commission stated that, in some cases, Southern California Edison’s equipment did not meet safety standards and that the utility was slow to restore power.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Twitter: @LAMarkKellam

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