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PacifiCorp outlines new changes to help mitigate fire risks during the wildfire season

PacifiCorp, the parent company for Pacific Power, has made new changes this year to better help prepare against wildfire impacts during the fire season.

Posted: Jun 4, 2021 4:14 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2021 5:14 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- PacifiCorp, the parent company for Pacific Power, has made new changes this year to better help prepare against wildfire impacts during the fire season.

Today, the company held a meeting to better explain some of the changes that that they've made since the 2020 fire season to help prevent possible fire risks to their equipment, that could help start or even spread a wildfire.

According to Allen Berreth, Vice President of Transmission and Distribution operations, the company has established several strategies for wildfire risk mitigation including developing a new risk model. This is includes identifying high risk areas and the consequences of a fire in that area, creating an enhanced inspection program, deploying covered conductors, to help stop debris from catching fire when it hits a power line, increasing rapid responses to fault events and enhancing vegetation management practices.

"We are constantly evolving and reviewing where we are deploying these tactics," said Berreth. "This is a multi-year effort. We are making progress to reduce the potential and reduce the possibility of wildfire risk."

Berreth stated that during this year's pre-fire season activity, the company began to use satellite imagery to better help identify areas of vegetation risk, to where wildfires could start, and remove the material.

Another big change, the company mentioned, is that PacifiCorp has added a new meteorology department. 

According to Steven Vanderberg, the Manager of Meteorology for PacifiCorp, the company created a new meteorology department team to monitor weather conditions and provide detailed utility specific forecasts.

Vanderberg also claimed that the company is working on super-computing tech to create weather forecast models to better predict weather conditions and potential impacts on Pacific Corporation's electric transmission and distribution system.

PacifiCorp also stated Friday that they will be adding more alert wildfire cameras to help identify areas of risk and possible fuels that may be located near sensitive equipment.

"All of this is really just designed to help us better anticipate, prepare for and respond to extreme weather events whether that be a fire event or otherwise," said Vanderberg. "This really helps us be able to take the steps needed to mitigate and reduce the risks and weather related impacts."

If a wildfire does still start, even with all of these precautions taken, the company says that they will make sure to notify all customers and media, if a public safety power shut-off (PSPS) is required.

Between 72-48 hours, the company said that they will reached out to customers, emergency management agencies, state authorities and the media of the shut down. After that, the company said that they will continue to monitor the situation for the next 24 hours updating everyone, as listed above, if a PSPS is required. 

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