STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

California governor signs wildfire bill to pay victims

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Friday that shores up the state's biggest electric utilities in the face of catastrophic wildfires.

Posted: Jul 12, 2019 4:19 PM

By ADAM BEAM Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Friday that shores up the state's biggest electric utilities in the face of catastrophic wildfires and claims for damage from past blazes caused by their equipment.

It requires major utilities to spend at least $5 billion combined on safety improvements and meet new safety standards, and it creates a fund of up to $21 billion that could help pay out claims as climate change makes wildfires across the U.S. West more frequent and more destructive.

"We have a lot to be proud of in this legislation," Newsom said, before adding lawmakers had more work to do. "This is not fixed. This is not it."

The fund is only for future wildfire victims. Victims of the most recent wildfires — including the 2018 Northern California fire that destroyed most of the town of Paradise and killed 85 people — are not eligible for the money.

Lawsuits they have filed against Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., which was blamed for causing the fire, will be resolved as part of the utility's bankruptcy proceedings.

Lawmakers hope the fund will stabilize the state's three largest investor-owned utilities. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are in danger of having their credit ratings downgraded as a result of lawsuits stemming from wildfire damage.

Newsom said lawmakers still need to address spending money to make homes more resistant to wildfires, something they lawmakers had included in the original proposal but did not make it into the final bill.

"We made the determination that this was the best path," the Democratic governor said.

The Legislature approved the bill just six days after the final version was published, leading some lawmakers to criticize the rushed process. But Newsom dismissed that criticism. "We're capable as human beings of doing great things," he said.

Up from the Ashes, a coalition of wildfire victims, praised the law. Patrick McCallum, the group's co-chairman who lost his home during a wildfire in 2017, said it puts more pressure on PG&E to settle the lawsuits against it "for adequate, full compensation."

"It just changes your life completely when you are a fire victim," McCallum said. "It's a struggle."

PG&E spokesman James Noonan said the company is committed to working with state officials on "shared solutions" for wildfire risk.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19097

Reported Deaths: 326
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah445092
Washington283023
Marion266767
Umatilla199624
Clackamas140136
Malheur67310
Deschutes5378
Lane5183
Lincoln3919
Union3882
Jackson3851
Yamhill35911
Jefferson3103
Morrow3041
Polk28812
Linn24810
Klamath1941
Hood River1690
Wasco1613
Benton1556
Douglas1321
Josephine1051
Coos840
Clatsop800
Columbia780
Crook431
Lake320
Baker300
Tillamook280
Wallowa191
Curry140
Sherman140
Harney80
Gilliam40
Grant20
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 512175

Reported Deaths: 9396
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1921774693
Orange37391651
Riverside37011695
San Bernardino32980417
San Diego29883565
Kern20545144
Fresno15083138
Alameda11524189
San Joaquin11483168
Santa Clara10626191
Sacramento10067142
Tulare9454178
Imperial9409220
Stanislaus9061110
Contra Costa7966125
Ventura734476
San Francisco681161
Santa Barbara616760
San Mateo5544119
Marin499470
Monterey482230
Kings438056
Merced428550
Solano361137
Sonoma305537
Madera194330
Placer192516
San Luis Obispo178315
Yolo154442
Santa Cruz11524
Butte9417
Napa8888
Sutter7866
San Benito6434
El Dorado6371
Lassen6310
Yuba4854
Shasta3699
Glenn3251
Colusa3234
Mendocino3179
Nevada2991
Tehama2341
Humboldt2334
Lake1951
Mono1451
Tuolumne1412
Amador1260
Calaveras1251
Del Norte880
Siskiyou730
Mariposa562
Inyo511
Plumas330
Trinity50
Alpine20
Modoc20
Sierra20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 85°
Brookings
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 67°
Crater Lake
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 78°
Grants Pass
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 84°
Klamath Falls
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 78°
Quiet start to the week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Dr. Jim Shames on the 17 new coronavirus cases in Jackson County Friday

Image

Monday, August 3 afternoon weather

Image

Monday, August 3 morning weather

Image

Health Alert: Understanding calcium

Image

Sunday, August 2nd Overnight Weather

Image

Sunday, August 2nd Morning Weather

Image

BLM HELPING FORESTS GET BACK ON THEIR FEET

Image

Saturday, August 1 evening weather

Image

Saturday, August 1 morning weather

Image

Pac-12 announces 10-game football schedule