OLYMPIA — Legislation designed to help reduce the risk of wildfire from electric utility equipment was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee recently.
House Bill 1032 was sponsored by 13th District Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake.
“There have been devastating wildfires across the country due to electric utilities,” Dent said in a press release. “This legislation can make a difference. It was supported by the utility industry and was well-worked and vetted. We came up with a good, comprehensive plan to do everything we can to protect our state’s natural resources, property and human life from wildfires.”
Dent also is the founder of the bipartisan Wildfire Caucus. Reducing the risk of wildfires has been one of Dent’s priorities throughout his legislative career, the release said.
The law will require the Department of Natural Resources, in consultation with the Energy Resilience and Emergency Management office, to get a consultant to recommend an electric utility wildfire mitigation plan and identify elements to be included in it. That’s due April 1, 2024.
Utilities then must review the draft plan and write their own plans by Oct. 31, 2024, and review their plans every three years.
The law also requires the Utility Wildland Fire Prevention Advisory Committee to meet at least twice each year and provide updates on required tasks, the press release said. The committee also must develop recommendations for strengthening state agency coordination of wildland fire risk reduction, prevention and suppression. The committee is required to publish the utility wildfire mitigation plans on its website.
“This bill sets up a good process for dealing with risk,” Dent said. “There are approximately 36,000 miles of powerlines in the state and this should give us a good framework to analyze the risk.”