Pacific Power presents 2023 wildfire mitigation plan for Oregon

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore.– Pacific Power presented its wildfire mitigation plan for Oregon Wednesday.

The plan includes a number of ways the company plans to improve its infrastructure, as well as its process for public safety power shutoff’s.

Pacific Power plans to invest millions into improvements designed to decrease the risk of wildfires this year.

It also said it expanded its network of weather stations over the last year.

With the 2023 fire season upon us, Pacific Power said its already started on a number of system hardening projects near Grants Pass.

That includes rebuilding or replacing power lines in places like Selma, O’Brien and Merlin.

Pacific Power’s Vice President of Wildfire Safety Amy McCluskey said, “these lines may be either moved, removed, retrofitted with more resilient material such as covered conductor, or converted to underground, or a combination of any of those tactics.”

Pacific Power said its also upgraded its weather forecasting abilities since last year and plans to add 47 more weather stations by the end of 2023.

It now has five full time meteorologists on staff and data from each of its weather stations will be available to the public online.

McCluskey said, “we’ve implemented a fire potential index that quantifies fire potential daily based on weather forecasts, vegetation moisture and complexity and terrain, also known as environmental conditions.”

Pacific Power said its forecasting assessments will inform their decisions around public safety power shutoff’s.

It said shutoff’s will only be used as a last resort to mitigate the risk of wildfires.

If they are implemented, Pacific Power said it will have community resource centers available.

McCluskey said, “when activated, these CRC’s provide critical services to customers and community members such as shelters, restrooms, charging stations, on-site medical support, and ice.”

Pac Power recommends you have an emergency plan and a two to three week supply of food and water, in case of a public safety shutoff.

McCLuskey said, “gather a backup supply of essential medicine, create an emergency kit with flashlights, batteries, solar phone chargers, first aid, essential phone numbers and cash, and designate an emergency meeting location.”

Earlier this month, a jury found Pacific Power liable for starting several wildfires in 2020.

That includes South Obenchain in Jackson County, though an official cause has never been released by ODF investigators.

Pacific Power said it plans to appeal the verdict.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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