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: 178110

Reported Deaths: 2468
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35509570
Washington23824229
Marion20503299
Clackamas15674204
Lane11854144
Jackson10123129
Umatilla800883
Deschutes736872
Linn425664
Yamhill415575
Klamath362559
Polk350352
Malheur343558
Josephine311762
Douglas307066
Benton280219
Jefferson208332
Coos199231
Columbia157526
Union142024
Wasco132028
Lincoln131220
Hood River114029
Morrow108515
Clatsop9118
Crook90719
Baker88114
Curry6069
Tillamook5893
Grant4314
Lake4197
Harney3156
Wallowa1585
Gilliam571
Sherman571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3727913

Reported Deaths: 61309
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123039823736
Riverside2977704555
San Bernardino2953154572
San Diego2759123684
Orange2693524910
Santa Clara1175382025
Kern1081311335
Sacramento1019061653
Fresno1008381654
Alameda857621481
Ventura803981002
San Joaquin718991340
Contra Costa67300782
Stanislaus606771035
Tulare49469831
Monterey43346380
San Mateo41318560
San Francisco36194529
Santa Barbara33926445
Solano32126244
Merced31321454
Sonoma29747318
Imperial28052719
Kings22825246
Placer21979283
San Luis Obispo21038260
Madera16309240
Santa Cruz15759204
Marin13883227
Yolo13606205
Shasta11779219
Butte11643196
El Dorado9831109
Napa973779
Sutter9322110
Yuba613844
San Benito599863
Lassen568524
Tehama545957
Nevada450575
Tuolumne409164
Mendocino399847
Humboldt369738
Amador363247
Lake342143
Glenn236125
Colusa220816
Calaveras206652
Siskiyou197921
Inyo141938
Del Norte12927
Mono12744
Plumas6976
Modoc4924
Mariposa4317
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned680
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