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Utility Emergency Preparedness Bill Voted Through Senate Hearing

The bill, which was inspired by SoCal Edison's response to the local windstorm in November, would require all utilities to update their emergency response plan every two years.

A state bill that would require all utilities to update their emergency response plan every two years has passed through a State Senate committee hearing and will now go for a vote before the full Senate.

The bill, AB 1650, was introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino as a response to the November wind storms that resulted in hundreds of thousands losing power throughout Los Angeles County, some for as much as a week.

The 12 members of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee all voted in favor of moving the bill to the full Assembly, according to a press release issued by Portantino's office.

Areport released earlier this year by an independent consultant hired by Southern California Edison  for a storm event of the magnitude of the November windstorms, and said the utility could have fully restored power as much as two days faster if it had followed ideal procedures.

Portantino represents a portion of Arcadia, La Cañada Flintridge, Altadena, Highland Park, South Pasadena, Monrovia, Montrose and other San Gabriel Valley communities.

“In the wake of the fierce winds and power outages that caused so much damage in Southern California late last year, we need to look at these events in a different way,” wrote Portantino in a press release. "We all know the ‘Big One’ is coming--it’s just a matter of when--and we need to be prepared."

In updating their plans every two years, utility officials would be required to hold disaster preparedness meetings with the counties and cities that they serve. The bill would apply to all gas and electric utilities, not just Southern California Edison.

If the bill is passed and signed into law, the utilities would be required to begin their disaster preparedness meetings within three months of its passage.

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