Pacific Power okays power shutoffs in Oregon for areas at high risk of wildfire

The strategy has previously been implemented in California, but will now be extended into Oregon during dangerous conditions.

Posted: Jun 13, 2019 4:42 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2019 6:00 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — After a devastating 2018 wildfire season that featured the deadly Camp Fire in California, which an investigation concluded began from PG&E power equipment, regional electric utility company Pacific Power is rolling out a new set of procedures aimed at preventing similar situations in increasingly fire-prone areas of Oregon.

"As wildfires become more frequent and intense throughout the West, protecting the communities we serve from this increasing threat, while providing safe, reliable power, is our highest priority," said Scott Bolton, Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Customer Solutions. "We are building on our work over past years to strengthen our system and implement additional safety measures to reduce wildfire risks."


Credit: Pixabay

Bolton said that Pacific Power has been working with local emergency agencies, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and community leaders to develop emergency response plans in times of high wildlifire risk. According to Bolton, the following efforts are all part of the new fire season plan:

  • Enhancing vegetation inspections and vegetation clearance around power lines or poles, increasing facilities inspections, making investments to improve equipment resiliency and fire-proofing, installing local weather stations, and training and equipping field crews for wildfire suppression.
  • Establishing a new fire prevention measure called a "Public Safety Power Shutoff" for areas at a higher risk of fast-spreading wildfires. A Public Safety Power Shutoff is a new measure designed to help keep people and communities in high-risk areas safe, by proactively shutting off power during extreme and dangerous weather conditions that can result in catastrophic wildfires. This measure would only be taken as a last resort to help ensure customer and community safety.
  • Working with local governments and emergency services agencies to update them on the conditions when this protocol would be used and seeking their input on coordination should for a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff.
  • Launching a public wildfire education and outreach campaign starting June 24 to share wildfire safety and prevention tips and to inform customers of the company’s Public Safety Power Shutoff measure. This would include public information workshops for communities in high-risk areas.

"Customers can take steps now to prepare for emergencies by keeping vegetation around their homes trimmed and low and updating their emergency plans and supplies," Bolton said. "Customers should also contact us to ensure their contact information is up-to-date, so we can keep provide updates about increased fire risk alerts, potential power outages and updates on power restoration."

Since the Camp Fire, PG&E has implemented more power shutoffs similar to those now being adopted by Pacific Power.

A statement from Josephine County on Wednesday indicates that Pacific Power has been true to their word, working with local governments to develop plans tailored to each area. Several meetings between local leaders and Pacific Power representatives took place in May.

"Since then, county representatives and other community stakeholders have been actively engaged in providing feedback and input on the plan, with the goal of limiting the risk of catastrophic wildfire while minimizing citizen hardship," the County statement said.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs are "of particular interest" to County representatives, they said.

“As wildfires become more frequent and intense throughout the West, our focus is on keeping our customers and our communities safe,” said Christina Kruger, Pacific Power regional business manager for Josephine and Jackson counties. “As part of this, we are working together with local counties’ emergency services to ensure they are informed of our planning and have an opportunity to provide feedback. Providing safe, reliable power is our highest priority.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 135142

Reported Deaths: 1832
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28678460
Washington18867175
Marion16394242
Clackamas11789138
Lane8467110
Jackson700485
Umatilla685671
Deschutes507339
Yamhill322846
Malheur316453
Linn314949
Polk249240
Klamath246944
Josephine178535
Benton174314
Jefferson171225
Douglas170943
Union112516
Wasco109123
Columbia105418
Lincoln100417
Hood River96121
Coos95215
Morrow94510
Clatsop6925
Crook62911
Baker5765
Tillamook3692
Curry3235
Lake2365
Grant2131
Harney1784
Wallowa973
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3074812

Reported Deaths: 35060
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles103873814416
San Bernardino2569141560
Riverside2510002676
San Diego2185552174
Orange2165092508
Santa Clara949051129
Kern87240572
Fresno83200968
Sacramento811831128
Alameda68649788
Ventura62774462
San Joaquin58843788
Contra Costa53349460
Stanislaus43121766
Tulare42186515
Monterey36464255
San Mateo32887309
San Francisco29502266
Solano25983107
Santa Barbara25405243
Imperial25333474
Merced24570316
Sonoma24184242
Kings19588148
Placer17490184
San Luis Obispo16056140
Madera13528151
Santa Cruz12461113
Marin11732159
Yolo10789138
Shasta9750123
Butte9528128
El Dorado788649
Sutter782879
Napa767244
Lassen519916
San Benito500346
Yuba499627
Tehama433244
Tuolumne340340
Nevada323474
Mendocino319232
Amador302431
Lake262531
Humboldt242725
Glenn194820
Colusa17969
Calaveras162123
Siskiyou145713
Mono11244
Inyo98329
Del Norte8672
Plumas5895
Modoc3853
Mariposa3464
Trinity3044
Sierra820
Alpine730
Unassigned00
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