Wilk: policy committee clears bill to help vulnerable Californians deal with power outages

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announces the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications has passed Senate Bill 801 (SB 801), a measure that will help medically vulnerable Californians weather some of the worst side effects of mandatory public safety power shutoffs (PSPS).

This year alone there have been roughly 1,130 wildfires in the state of California. SB 801 will require the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in partnership with local disability rights groups, to develop a program that will provide those with an electrical need to sustain life with the power they rely on during future, deliberate power outages. This can take the form of generators, back-up battery packs, or financial assistance to acquire these devices privately.

Wilk issued the following statement:

“During these uncertain times the last thing anyone should have to worry about is keeping the medical devices they need to survive on and fully operational, which is why I coauthored SB 801.

“In an ideal scenario the CPUC would assure that power lines are safe during high wind situations and eliminate the need to implement PSPS events. That is not currently the case. With SB 801 we have an opportunity to create peace of mind and avoid compounding crises for some of our most vulnerable populations.

“During last fall’s fires, California was unprepared and left people without lifesaving power. That is unacceptable and dangerous. Partnering with community disability rights advocates to develop this program will provide those in need with the expertise, trust, and relationships necessary to provide the level of service we expect.”

SB 801 is now on its way to the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate.