Southern California Edison plans wildfire safety measures
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California utility plans to replace 3,400 miles of overhead power lines with insulated wire to reduce the risk of them sparking when hit by tree limbs or other objects, the company announced Monday.
Southern California Edison aims to replace the lines by 2025 to align itself with legislation that California lawmakers have sent to the governor to sign to prevent wildfires.
Sparking power lines are one of the leading causes of California’s wildfires. The wildfires have killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes in recent years.
The legislation sparked debate because it also will allow another utility company — Pacific Gas & Electric — to raise electric rates to cover the costs of lawsuits from last year’s deadly wildfires amid fears it could go bankrupt otherwise.
The bill also requires investor-owned utilities to safeguard their equipment to reduce the risk of fires.
Southern California Edison said the insulated wire installation is part of a $582 million plan that would also be paid for in part by a rate increase. It includes removing trees and brush, installing cameras to help emergency crews assess a situation and respond quicker and adding weather stations so the utility can decide the safest way to operate if the risk of a fire is high.
Fire investigators have blamed PG&E equipment for 12 of last year’s wildfires in Northern California’s wine country, including two that killed 15 people combined. Authorities have not determined fault for the Tubbs Fire, the most destructive in state history, which destroyed thousands of homes in Santa Rosa.
PG&E is facing dozens of lawsuits from insurers, which have spent billions settling insurance claims from homeowners.
▶4 INJURED AFTER BUS CRASHES INTO BUILDING
IN SAN FRANCISCO: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials say a bus driver is in critical condition after the bus he was driving crossed a center divider and crashed Monday into a tree and building in San Francisco. Three passengers had minor injuries. San Francisco Police Dept. Lt. Amy Hurwitz says the driver was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Three passengers had minor injuries when the bus traveling on Lombard Street crashed into a drycleaning store.
▶CANADIAN MAN SENTENCED FOR BILKING US
VICTIMS OUT OF $18M: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Canadian con man who bilked at least 60,000 U.S. residents through a cross-border telemarketing scheme has been sentenced to federal prison.
A judge in Los Angeles sentenced Mark Wilson on Monday to more than 11 years behind bars.
Prosecutors say the Vancouver man targeted mainly the elderly with a scheme that sold them a non-existent credit card protection service. The victims were charged about $300 for phony protection against — ironically — fraudulent credit card charges.
Authorities say the scam raked in about $18 million from people in 37 states.
▶SENTENCING IN ARSON FIRE AT LANDMARK IN
JOSHUA TREE PARK: RIVERSIDE (AP) — A man has been sentenced to five years in prison for setting a fire that damaged a historical landmark in Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park
Federal prosecutors say George William Graham was observed watching flames rip through palm trees in March at the Oasis of Mara and told park rangers he started the fire. The oasis was settled by Native Americans who planted the 29 palm trees that inspired the name of the nearby city of Twentynine Palms.