By Hailey Wilson
In 2016 alone, more than 5,700 wildfires burned across the state of California according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. And despite record rain this winter, climate change is expected to increase the number of large wildfires as well as the length of the wildfire season in California. To help Californian communities meet this challenge, PG&E has launched its Better Together Resilient Communities grant program.
Through the program, PG&E will invest $1 million over five years — or $200,000 per year — in shareholder-funded grants to help communities better prepare for, withstand, and recover from extreme events and other risks related to climate change. This year, the company is calling for proposals that will build healthy and resilient forests and watersheds to help communities prevent and prepare for increasing wildfire risk.
“At PG&E, we believe adapting to the reality of climate change must include helping our communities to become more resilient to its many potential effects, such as the risk of wildfires,” said Geisha Williams, CEO and president of PG&E Corporation. “One way to do that is to work closely with our local partners, as well as those at the state and federal level, to support the best and most innovative ideas — with a particular focus on those who live in highly vulnerable areas.”
PG&E will award two grants of $100,000 through a competitive process. A panel of community and sustainability leaders, including the League of California Cities and members of PG&E’s Sustainability Advisory Council will play an advisory role with the program.
Strategies and solutions resulting from the grants will be made publicly available to help all communities, and encourage local and regional partnerships.
“Climate change is having extreme effects on our planet, and the state of California is facing increasing weather-related risks, including more frequent and more intense wildfires,” said Dr. Jonathan Foley, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences and member of PG&E’s Sustainability Advisory Council. “I applaud PG&E for partnering with vulnerable communities on this science-based climate change resilience initiative. This new grant program will help Californians prepare for a future with more wildfires and other impacts from a changing climate.”
Lou Paulson, president of the California Professional Firefighters, praised PG&E’s leadership role to help protect the state’s communities from wildfires.
“As we work to ensure a safe, sustainable environment for our firefighters, their families, and our communities, it is essential to gain a better understanding of how to reduce the risks climate change and wildfires pose to lives and property,” Paulson said.
With wildfire and other risks increasing to historic levels, innovative, collaborative solutions are needed, said Tom Trott, general manager of Twain Harte Community Services District.
“We applaud PG&E for offering a program that focuses on these risks and encourages the collaboration needed to keep our communities safe now and in the years to come,” Trott said.
Grant criteria and eligibility
Grant proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:
- Partnerships: the extent to which the proposal reflects a collaborative effort among multiple organizations
- Replicability: the extent to which the proposal identifies how others can learn from and adopt the resulting strategies and solutions
- Assistance to disadvantaged communities: the extent to which the proposal addresses the identified needs of disadvantaged communities
- Measurable impact: the extent to which the proposal includes practical, measurable and innovative ways to address community needs and climate risks
To be eligible, applicants must be a governmental organization, educational institution or 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All applicants must include a local government within PG&E’s service area as a partner.
Learn more about the grants and how to apply at pge.com/resiliencegrants.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.