After Deadly Wildfires, California Power Regulator Could Face Sweeping Changes

March 14, 2019 AT 7:45 AM

By Jeff Daniels

California's power regulator could face a shake-up that could lead to sweeping changes for PG&E and other utilities. It follows the California Public Utilities Commission coming under criticism for failing to properly enforce a 2016 law requiring electric utility companies to have a wildfire action plan.

Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted about possible change coming to the CPUC during a meeting last week in Sacramento, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. It said the governor met with a group of state lawmakers and analysts from S&P Global Ratings.

According to the Journal, the governor is weighing "overhauling" the commission, including making a management change, as the state prepares for the upcoming wildfire season. Newsom's office and the CPUC didn't respond to a request for comment.

"The utilities in California are probably due for a pretty massive overhaul anyways," said Brian Curtis, CEO of Concentric Power, a California-based energy technology firm. "It's sort of a once-in-30-year opportunity to re-regulate how things are going in California."

Last month, PG&E — the state's largest electric utility — said in a regulatory filing that it believes it's "probable" that the company's equipment will be found to be the source of the catastrophic 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed more than 10,000 homes and killed 86 people in Butte County. Problems with PG&E equipment near where the Camp Fire is believed to have started were also reported by the utility in November.

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