SOUTHERN OREGON, —The start of fire season could be right around the corner. Pacific Power is taking steps to prevent a wildfire. Pacific Power says some areas it serves are at an increased risk of catastrophic wildfires. That’s why the utility company has put a number of measures in place to reduce that risk.
“The best time to be prepared is before anything happens, so just like you get ready in the winter for winter storms to hit you do the same for summer,” said Drew Hanson with Pacific Power Spokesperson.
Pacific Power hosted a wildfire safety and preparedness meeting Tuesday, for customers. It was an open forum geared toward northern California residents. The utility also shared progress on wildfire safety work. Those efforts include system hardening and enhanced vegetation management.
“Making investments to make our systems more resilient some of those investments are putting a covered conductor in certain areas, so if anything makes contact with that line is lessens the chance or a spark to happen,” said Hanson.
Downed power lines have played a part in some of the most destructive wildfires in the west, in recent years. As a safety precaution, electricity could be turned off in high-risk areas, to prevent a fast-moving wildfire. Pacific Power says intentional shut-offs are a tool it can use to reduce wildfire risk, but it’ll be done as a last resort.
“At the core of our decision making, and the overall PSPS program is balancing the risk of the conditions surrounding a potential event with the risk created by the de-energization itself we look to understand that and evaluate the risk when we make the decision,” said Allen Berreth.
Lawsuits have also already been filed against Pacific Power, for allegedly starting the Slater Fire, in Siskiyou County. Investigators have not officially said what started that fire.
It burned more than 157,000-acres and destroyed nearly 200 homes in the Happy Camp area, in September 20-20. Other major companies, like California company PG&E, have been accused of starting fires. A federal judge said PG&E-owned equipment ignited at least 31 wildfires that burned nearly 1.5 million acres and killed 113 people, in the last 5 years.
“Especially in the west coast and the pacific northwest, we have all experienced that our climate in changing and so our approach to wildfire safety and mitigation is changing as well to keep up with that change,” said Hanson.
Since its creation in 2019, Hanson says the southern Oregon area has not seen a public safety power shut off. If one is implemented, Pacific Power says it offers programs to meet the communities needs during the shut-off.
You can watch Tuesday’s webinar on pacific power’s website.