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New Wildfire Prevention Technology Shuts Off Power On Impact

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Sonora, CA — Things like tree branches falling into power lines have been the cause of multiple high-profile fires in recent years in California.

In response, PG&E has been implementing new technology that will shut off power within one-tenth of a second, when a fault, such as a tree limb coming into contact with a powerline, is detected. PG&E reports that last year, on 170 circuits with the new safety settings enabled, there was an 80% reduction in “reportable ignitions in high fire-threat areas that could result in a wildfire,” compared to the prior three-year average.

The company reports that ahead of this summer season, “Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings” now help protect three million people who live in high fire risk areas.

Asked specifically about the local region, PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras says, “There are portions of 18 circuits in Calaveras County that have EPSS settings on them and they have been enabled.  And there are portions of 20 circuits in Tuolumne County that have EPSS settings and they are all enabled as well.”

Click on the image box to see a pair of supplemental maps with more specifics on the two-county region.

The new technology does bring with it the likelihood of additional power outages. So far this year, circuits with EPSS in California have experienced 205 outages, with the average restoration time being 3.5 hours.

PG&E VP Mark Quinlan adds, “When we stop ignitions, we stop wildfires. Rest assured that we work every day to prevent outages and to expedite restoration if they do happen.”

PG&E says that the safety settings will remain enabled on 700 to 800 of those circuits between now and the end of the wildfire season.

  • Calaveras County EPSS Map