The draft report contains some controversial ideas, which legislative leaders and California’s governor largely steered clear of in an initial response to the findings.
“We are committed to continuing the exploration of the impact of strict liability on the costs to ratepayers, on wildfire victims and on the solvency of our utilities. If the trend of massive, catastrophic wildfires persists, we may need to pursue additional changes,” Gov. Gavin Newsom, D, said in a joint statement with the leaders of California’s Senate and Assembly.
The state’s inverse condemnation rules mean utilities can be found liable for all wildfire damages, regardless of whether they operated in accordance with state rules and regulations. This has led to financial upheaval and credit downgrades for California’s largest investor-owned utilities. Pacific Gas & Electric was forced to declare bankruptcy this year as it faces billions in liabilities related to the state’s deadly fires.