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Bill Detail: SB21-170

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Title Wildland Fire Mitigation Cooperative Electric Association
Status Senate Committee on Transportation & Energy Postpone Indefinitely (04/06/2021)
Bill Subjects
  • Local Government
House Sponsors J. Arndt (D)
M. Lynch (R)
Senate Sponsors J. Ginal (D)
D. Hisey (R)
House Committee
Senate Committee Transportation and Energy
Date Introduced 03/02/2021
Summary

The bill requires a cooperative electric association (association) to
adopt a wildland fire protection plan. The plan must include information

on:
  • Areas where the association has powerline facilities that
may have an increased risk of wildland fires;
  • The procedures and standards that the association will use
to inspect and operate its powerline facilities and perform
vegetation management around those facilities;
  • The modifications or upgrades that the association will
implement to reduce risks of wildland fires;
  • The procedures for de-energizing powerline facilities to
mitigate potential wildland fires;
  • Community outreach efforts during the wildland fire
season; and
  • The potential for coordination with other wildland fire
protection plans.
An association must file its wildland fire protection plan with the public
utilities commission every 3 years and must submit an annual report to the
commission detailing its compliance with the plan.
The bill allows, but does not require, an association to remove or
partially remove vegetation outside of a powerline facility easement as
necessary following a major weather event or other emergency situation.
In addition, an association may designate vegetation as hazard
vegetation if the association finds that the vegetation is dead, likely to
fail, or likely to fall, sway, or grow into a powerline facility and finds that
the vegetation is likely to cause substantial damage, disrupt service, or
come within a minimum clearance distance of the powerline facility. An
association may, but is not required to, remove or partially remove hazard
vegetation outside of an easement after providing notice to the landowner.
The association is not required to provide notice if removal of the hazard
vegetation is necessary to continue safe operation of its facilities or if the
removal is done as part of trimming or removing vegetation after a storm
or other emergency event.
If vegetation outside of a powerline facility easement dies as the
result of being trimmed or partially removed by an association, the
landowner may request that the association remove the vegetation at the
association's expense. The association is required to remove the
vegetation within ninety days; except that the association may offer and
the landowner may accept payment for the reasonable cost of removal
instead of the association removing the vegetation.
An association is not liable for personal injury, property damage,
or fire suppression costs resulting from a wildland fire if any of the
following apply:
  • The association filed a wildland fire protection plan and
completed the activities described in it;
  • A landowner failed to control vegetation outside of a
powerline facility easement on the landowner's land;
  • The association requested and was denied access to
perform vegetation management in a right-of-way on land
owned by a local government, the state, a federal agency,
or a tribal agency; or
  • A landowner prevented the association from maintaining
its powerline facility easement or from removing hazard
vegetation outside the easement.
If none of those circumstances apply and an association is found liable for
a wildland fire, the prevailing plaintiff is limited to actual damages and
cannot recover noneconomic, punitive, or exemplary damages.

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