Post-windstorm reform bill signed into law

A bill requiring utilities to update emergency plans and work closely with local governments has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure, inspired by Southern California Edison’s lackluster response to last year's windstorm, was introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge).

AB 1650 requires privately-owned utilities to develop an emergency and disaster preparedness plan every two years and to hold comprehensive disaster preparedness meetings with the counties and cities they service, starting within three months of Jan. 1, 2013.

Edison was roundly criticized by Portantino and others after late November and early December windstorms knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents, with some in the dark for about a week.

Portantino said that he was "ecstatic" to see the governor push utilities towards better preparation and more transparency.

“This bill has some significant teeth as far as far as the California Public Utilities Commission setting strong standards… It has accountability,” said Portantino.

A preliminary CPUC report on the windstorm stated that in some cases Edison’s equipment did not meet safety standards and that the utility was slow to restore power to homes and business.

 “We learned some things from the major wind disaster last December that change how we look at these events,” Portantino said in a statement.  “Having utilities review their plans every two years will force better coordination, better service and better public safety.”

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Twitter: @ValleySunDan

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