SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is ordering utility companies to do more to keep power lines from sparking devastating wildfires.
The state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday toughened its rules requiring power companies to keep trees and brush away from power lines in areas at higher risk of fires. Utilities also would have to step up patrols to look for fire risks and speed repairs.
Commission President Michael Picker calls the new orders a “major rewrite” of existing fire prevention rules for utilities. Picker says the changes acknowledge how dramatically climate change is raising wildfire risks in much of the state.
The board’s unanimous action comes as firefighters in Southern California battle some of the largest wildfires in state history, including some that witnesses have linked to sparks from wind-whipped power lines.
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