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California Faces Costly Measures in Preparing for Future Wildfires

In California, recovery after wildfires means many upfront investments by communities and the state.
July 26, 2019, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Forest Service, USDA

California residents and communities are finding that post-wildfire costs are astronomical, report Thomas Fuller and Ian Penn. Some municipalities are having to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for backup generators in anticipation of power shutoffs during high-risk periods. In addition, insurance rates have skyrocketed in fire-prone areas, and insurers are not renewing some policies as well.

"Pacific Gas & Electric, which already charges among the highest electricity rates in the country, is requesting that regulators approve an additional charge to customers of $2 billion over the next three years to help pay for wildfire safety improvements and other costs," write Fuller and Penn.

The state is also shoring up for the disasters to come. Earlier this month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill for a $21 billion wildfire fund to cover future liabilities. "Made worse by climate change, wildfires are adding a mounting financial burden in California, a state where taxes are already high and housing costs exorbitant," note Fuller and Penn.

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Published on Monday, July 22, 2019 in The New York Times
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