California Panel To Probe Growing Wildfire Costs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A California legislative panel will meet for the first time to discuss the growing threat of wildfires and who should pay for the ballooning costs. The Wednesday meeting comes a day after Gov. Jerry Brown threw his support behind softening the standard that makes electric utilities financially liable when their equipment causes wildfires. Utilities say they face unprecedented costs as climate change contributes to longer, more destructive fire seasons. They’re lobbying lawmakers to tamp down a decades-old policy that holds them strictly liable for the cost of fires caused by their power lines and other infrastructure. California’s liability rules are among the toughest in the nation on insurers. Brown’s proposal would allow courts to weigh a variety of factors to apportion a utility’s liability.

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