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Plans to prevent wildfires by turning off power supply

Pacific Power's new protocol for wildfire season in California involves shutting off power to prevent wildfires.

Posted: May 18, 2019 11:46 AM
Updated: May 18, 2019 11:54 AM

YREKA, Cali. -- Pacific Power is adopting new wildfire safety plans for Oregon and California.
Newswatch12 brought you the plan for Oregon. In California, new protocol involves power supply shut downs.

This new protocol allows Pacific Power to shut down power supply to specific areas to prevent fires. Officials said shutting off power will be used as a line of last defense in the interest of public safety. Pacific Power plans to prepare the communities deemed as high risk zones for scenarios when a shutoff would be required. Community workshops, customer outreach and education on shutoffs will all be offered in high risk zones.

One business NewsWatch12 spoke with said losing power, depending on how long, could cost their business thousands.

Dori Ebejer, the owner of J&D's Family Diner in Yreka, said, "It would be devastating."

She worries what a shutdown could mean for her small business.

Ebejer said, "I understand that everybody has to be proactive, but they also have to be mindful that by doing the shutdowns it's not just like 'Oh okay, well this is going to help fire season' they have to look beyond that, they have to realize that they're affecting other people's lives."

Losing power for more than a few hours, could spoil thousands of dollars of food inside the diner.

"You're talking steaks and fish and things that won't hold," Ebejer explained. 

Beyond that, she worries for her employees.

"They depend on us in order to be able to pay their bills and if we are shut down, that would make their paychecks much smaller and they depend on a certain amount every month to pay the rent and the bills."

For those who have generators, they aren't too worried about the shutdowns.

Linda Sanchez, a Mount Shasta resident, said, "Anything that can help, the power lines, cleaning up around your property - yes, that's what we have to do."

Sanchez has lived in California for 30 years and said she's willing to do whatever it takes to prevent another fire season as bad as last year.

"The lesser evil is definitely the power going out," Sanchez said.

As of now, these Public Safety Power Shut-off protocols are not in place for Oregon, but Pacific Power is adopting a new wildfire safety plan for Oregon as well. That plan includes monitoring the grid, weather conditions, equipment inspections and increased vegetation management.

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