The Senate passed a measure Thursday allowing water agencies to run backup generators as long as needed during power shutoffs for wildfire threats.

Under current law, air pollution control districts could fine utilities when they exceed a set amount of hours for running a generator. The bill’s author, Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa, acknowledged that has not actually happened yet.

Concerns arose over the amount of pollution diesel generators emit, which can occur in regions already plagued with poor air quality. The bill gives utilities five years to take advantage of grants for upgrading to lower emitting generators before the fines could be levied.

“Let's not make a mistake about who the real villain is here,” countered Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica, referring to PG&E. “The real problem here is that we've got a utility that has not done the work and has not put in place the infrastructure to mitigate and to minimize the need for PSPS events.”

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A number of water districts and rural interests support the bill.