Reducing Wildfire And Public Safety Power Shutoffs Impacts
Sonora, CA — While all California utilities plan to continue shutting off power to customers during dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, their 2020 plans are now in the hands of the California Public Utilities Commission as required by the state after devastating wildfire blamed on utilities.
The companies have outlined ways to shorten outages by targeting smaller areas to avoid widespread blackouts. PG&E says its wildfire mitigation plan expands and enhances the company’s existing Community Wildfire Safety Program, which is designed to address the growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires across its service area.
“We know how much our customers rely on electric service. Proactively turning off power disrupts lives and presents its own safety risks, which need to be carefully considered and addressed,” said Debbie Powell, PG&E Vice President, Asset & Risk Management, Community Wildfire Safety Program. “Turning off power for safety is not how we strive to serve our customers, and we are committed to reducing the impacts without compromising safety.”
The plan calls for expanded trimming of vegetation that can cause a fire when it strikes electrical equipment and to fortify power lines, making them less likely to produce sparks or become vulnerable to fire damage.
In a news release, PG&E officials vowed that outages would be “smaller in scope and shorter in duration” and it would lessen “overall impacts of shutoffs while working to keep customers and communities safe during times of severe weather and high wildfire risk.”
Last fall the company was heavily criticized for not taking a more targeted approach. Although the work proposed should help decrease the need for power outages over time, PG&E admitted it will remain a necessity in extreme fire danger.
Click here to view PG&E’s 2020 wildfire mitigation plan.