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20 November, 2018

Utilities: California Legislator Announces Potential PG&E Bill

The Takeaway:

California Assembly member and current Utilities and Energy Committee Chair Chris Holden's (D-41) office announced that he will introduce a bill to expand securitization protections created by SB901 to include 2018 fires. Holden is one of the legislators who pushed through SB901, and we view him as one of the most informed and constructive voices on utility liability in the legislature. His policy staffer, Kellie Smith, was also a crucial player in earlier liability legislation, and she will play a key role in this attempt as well. We do not expect that this bill will be the only piece of wildfire related legislation introduced, and we believe the final process may end up moving similarly to SB901 whereby multiple legislative ideas - both on liability and fire prevention - were rolled together to increase support and make passage more palatable. The timing for this process remains unclear, and it depends largely on political sentiment in the state. Bloomberg reports that the bill could be introduced as early as December 3, during the one legislative day of 2018, which would mean the bill could be available for consideration in early January. However, we think that moving liability legislation so quickly after the Camp Fire will prove extremely difficult. In a positive note for PG&E (PCG) and other utilities, the majority of members who supported SB901 remain in office after the recent elections, ensuring a base of support for legislation that includes securitization.