California senator’s bill fails, but continues push for wildfire fuels reduction |

California senator’s bill fails, but continues push for wildfire fuels reduction

Senatar Alvarado-Gil

TRUCKEE, Calif. — California Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil’s bill that would expand a wildfire fuels reduction program has died in committee but the senator is committed to continuing to push for program expansion.

Alvarado-Gil, whose area includes Truckee-Tahoe, authored Senate Bill 488 that would expand the Bioenergy Renewable Auction Mechanism program to community choice aggregation organizations, which are local nonprofits that allow communities to purchase electricity on behalf of residents and businesses in place of investor-owned utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric. 

BioRAM has assisted California in its effort to increase the pace and rate of the removal of fuels and debris from the state’s burned areas and vulnerable forests, as well as, moving the maximum amount of that material as possible to a beneficial reuse facility. Existing BioRAM contracted facilities took almost 1.3 million acres of dry fuel that were removed from high fire risk forest lands last year alone, producing 190 MWs of clean, renewable electricity. By allowing CCAs to participate in the BioRAM program, SB 448 would ensure that any facility that can commit to taking high-priority hazard zone fuel for the state has the opportunity to get a power contract.

Sen. Alvarado-Gil presented her plan to ensure PG&E would be held accountable and to serve notice that their disregard for their customers cannot stand.

“Rural counties stand together against the complete arrogance and incompetence of PG&E. Bills like SB 488 stand up against the Goliath utility company and for consumers and ratepayers. In addition, SB 488 would have helped with wildfire mitigation that we so desperately need,” said Alvarado-Gil.

The bill, sponsored by Pioneer Community Energy, has the support of many local and statewide groups, including the California Forestry Association, Placer County, El Dorado County, GreenLeaf Power, the California Farm Bureau, and the Association of California Water Agencies.

“Pioneer Energy sponsored SB 488 because our service territory has seen more than its share of devastating wildfires in the last few years,” said Alice Dowdin-Calvillo, board chair for Pioneer Community Energy. “Our customers understand the energy and wildfire reduction benefits of biomass. Pioneer would like to express our sincere gratitude to Senator Alvarado-Gil for authoring SB 488. Our ratepayers have subsidized the BioRAM program for years and yet have not been able to avail themselves of this program.”

The bill failed to pass the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications.

“Regardless of the bill’s failure, I am committed to pursuing different avenues of bioenergy procurement to ensure our constituents, the ratepayers, are no longer subject to the ineptitude of PG&E’s outdated practices,” stated Alvarado-Gil.

To learn more about Sen. Alvarado-Gil, visit

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