Pacific Gas and Electric announced this week that it is providing $2 million to local wildfire prevention organizations across California. Two are on the Central Coast.
The Fire Safe Council of Monterey County and the San Luis Obispo Fire Safe Council will each receive a grant from PG&E. The Fire Safe Council of Monterey County is receiving $61,050. Pam Peck, the executive treasurer of that organization, explained that the funds will be used to "reduce roadside vegetation; enable safe ingress and egress during a wildfire for residents, fire and emergency personnel; improve roads [to act as fuel breaks], and to protect the community."
Fire safe councils are nonprofit, volunteer organizations that assist Cal Fire and work to promote fire safety, as well as improve communication during wildfires. Peck says that fire safe councils rely heavily on funding like the grants being offered by PG&E to aid in stopping the spread of wildfires.
"There's so much money being spent on actually fighting the fires," Peck said, "that there's not as much funding for prevention, and we desperately need that."
PG&E's vice president of Asset Management, Kevin Dasso, said in the company's announcement this week that years of drought, extreme heat and, "129 million dead trees are creating a 'new normal' in California." Dasso said agencies will need to work to adapt to new challenges.
Thirty projects in 24 counties received funding. The projects must be completed by October of this year. Missing from the list of grant recipients is the fire safe council in Santa Barbara County, an area recently ravaged by a series of wildfires. But a representative from PG&E said the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council did not submit any projects for funding during this round of grants.
The power company says that it has provided $13 million to local fire safe councils since 2014.