Wildfire and Safety Performance
To promote wildfire risk reduction in electric and gas utility operations by developing, tracking, and analyzing appropriate safety and performance metrics; coordinating with fellow regulatory staff within the Commission and other state agencies such as the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety; and advising Commissioners on enforcement actions initiated by other divisions and any other wildfire safety issues.
Purpose and Mission
Legislative and policy changes at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), particularly from Assembly Bill 1054 (Stats. 2019, Ch. 79) and in the Public Utilities Code §8389 created new wildfire safety policy workflows. The Wildfire & Safety Performance section was created within the Safety Policy Division with the following functions:
- Coordination with the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety on Annual Adoption of Wildfire Mitigation Plans
Both CPUC and the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (Energy Safety) within the Natural Resources Agency are responsible for overseeing wildfire safety in electric utilities, as detailed in each utility’s annual wildfire mitigation plan. The Wildfire & Safety Performance section acts as liaison with Energy Safety and advises Commissioner's offices and other CPUC divisions on issues related to wildfire safety, such as safety culture assessments and wildfire policy compliance. This role also involves cooperation with other CPUC divisions and sections manage and draft formal Commission resolutions regarding Energy Safety's decisions, particularly those reviewing wildfire mitigation plannings and compliance.
- Development and Evaluation of Safety Performance Metrics (SPM)
The major investor-owned utilities submit annual Safety Performance Metrics Reports, as required by Decisions D.19-04-020 and D.21-11-009, 32 metrics covering electric, gas, worker, and public safety. Wildfire & Safety Performance staff assess these Safety Performance Metrics to determine historical and inter-utility comparative progress in safety risk mitigation and for other CPUC evaluation functions, including the effectiveness of wildfire mitigation measures, improvement of employee safety, and risk-spent efficiency when applying general rate case.
- Enhanced Oversight and Enforcement of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)
In its approval of PG&E's 2020 bankruptcy reorganization, the Commission established the Enhanced Oversight and Enforcement (EOE) Process to “add clarity and certainty to the Commission’s processes for monitoring and enforcing PG&E’s safety performance” in “delivering safe, reliable, affordable, clean energy” (D.20-05-053, p.109 and Appendix A, p.1). Certain triggering events can initiate different stages of the process, under which PG&E faces escalating disciplinary consequences for demonstrating "insufficient progress" on safety performance, as determined by the Commission. Triggering events include, but not limited to, insufficient progress on Safety and Operational Metrics (SOM) defined in D.21-11-009, failure to obtain approval of its annual wildfire mitigation plan, failure to obtain a safety certificate as provided in AB 1054, a destructive gas or electric incident that destroys 1,000 or more structures, or inadequate corrective actions to exit any stage of the EOE Process. The Wildfire & Safety Performance section reviews the semiannual SOM reports, along with quarterly wildfire data and other submissions, for PG&E's progress toward safety and other risk-driven goals.
As a condition of approving Pacific Gas & Electric's (PG&E) plan for exiting bankruptcy in May 2020, the CPUC required PG&E shareholders to fund an Independent Safety Monitor to succeed the Court Appointed Federal Monitor, which was an element of PG&E's criminal probation. The Federal Monitor's term concluded in January 2022. By establishing an ISM, the CPUC enhances its safety oversight of PG&E. More details of ISM are provided here.
- Advisement on Enforcement Actions
Safety Policy Division reviews, evaluates, and advises decision makers on proposed safety-related enforcement actions. Wildfire & Safety Performance serves on topics related to wildfire safety.
Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans (Deprecated)
Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) / De-Energization
RELATED STATE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS
Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (formerly the Wildfire Safety Division)
Wildfire Safety Advisory Board (now at the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety)