Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Marybel Batjer congratulating the commission on its climate change work and urging a strong partnership with the federal government. As we recover from COVID-19 and ahead of negotiations on a potential federal infrastructure package, Senator Feinstein requested information on what the commission’s priorities are for building California’s clean energy future and preventing wildfires.
The letter follows this week’s release of a joint-agency report written by the California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the CPUC explaining that California needs to triple its rate of building new wind and solar energy facilities and add eight times more battery storage to the energy grid.
Following actions this week by the Federal Communications Commission to strengthen its emergency alert systems, the letter also focuses on the need to fireproof California’s telecommunications infrastructure.
“As you know, the Biden Administration and the majorities in the Senate and House have prioritized action to combat climate change, and I encourage the CPUC to partner as strongly as possible with federal agencies for durable, coordinated action,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “Further, I invite you to share with my office your priorities for a potential infrastructure package to help facilitate California’s clean energy future and redouble our efforts to prevent and respond to increasingly deadly wildfires.”
The full text of the letter is available here and below:
March 19, 2021
President Marybel Batjer
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102
Dear President Batjer,
Congratulations on the California Public Utilities Commission’s continued leadership and bold action on climate change. As you know, the Biden Administration and the majorities in the Senate and House have prioritized action to combat climate change, and I encourage the CPUC to partner as strongly as possible with federal agencies for durable, coordinated action. Further, I invite you to share with my office your priorities for a potential infrastructure package to help facilitate California’s clean energy future and redouble our efforts to prevent and respond to increasingly deadly wildfires.
Just this week, two actions crystallize what we need to do and the hard work required. On March 16, a joint-agency report drafted by the California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board and CPUC reported that California must triple its rate of building new wind and solar facilities and add battery storage to the grid eight times over current levels. To meet our state’s goals, we must build six gigawatts of new renewable and storage each year to reach 60% clean energy by 2030 as required under SB 100—equivalent to powering approximately 4 million homes with clean energy every year.
And on March 17th, the Federal Communications Commission strengthened its Emergency Alert System and its Network Outage and Disaster Information Reporting Systems, prompted by wildfire evacuation orders that were never received by the public. As you know, 85,000 wireless customers lost service during the 2017 North Bay Fires and 27% of Sonoma County’s wireless cell sites went offline during the 2019 Kincade Fire. In 2020 alone, 4.4 million acres were burned, including 10,000 structures, 5,000 of which were homes in California. In response to wildfires and blackouts, the CPUC’s recent actions to require 72 hours of backup power will be instrumental in helping Californians receive important emergency announcements during these disasters, but more must be done.
These actions underscore why we must act aggressively on climate change while adapting to our new reality. Please know that I remain committed to this effort, including by supporting funding our national labs to ensure technologies are well-developed, advocating for federal permitting where appropriate, and pushing for new authority for clean energy solutions. It is critical that our nation’s energy and telecommunications infrastructure is resilient, and I am proud that California and the Commission are leading this important work. I look forward to hearing from you, and please let me know if I can be of assistance on these or other issues.
United States Senator