California Senate approves key wildfire proposal

The California Senate has approved a proposal to stabilize the state's electric utilities amid increasing wildfire risks.

The bipartisan vote is a win for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who wants action on the bill by Friday. It now goes to the state Assembly.

The proposal creates a fund to pay for damages from catastrophic wildfires. Utilities can tap it if they invest in safety measures and take other steps such as tying executive pay to safety performance.

It comes on the heels of two devastating wildfire seasons when major deadly blazes were caused by utility equipment.

The bill's backers say it will protect ratepayers from escalating costs and ensure utilities can keep operating. One Democratic lawmaker said it was a missed opportunity to move the state away from relying on investor-owned utilities.

Dawn Kamber