PORTLAND, OR -- Pacific Power plans to take aggressive steps, this summer, to prevent electrical lines from causing wildfires. Last year’s devastating fire in Paradise, California is blamed on PG&E transmission lines.
Pacific Power crews are expanding the amount of vegetation they cut around power equipment and inspecting lines for trees that could cause lines to come down. Senior Vice President Scott Bolton says they may have to do even more, "In high-risk fire areas of the state, even proactively de-energizing or shutting off power." But, he says, "It’s a measure of last resort when we see extreme conditions around high wind, high temperatures, very low humidity and potential for a fire to ignite."
Bolton says the utility is also looking at ways to strengthen their grid, "How do we improve the safety and resiliency of the grid today and what are the types of measures we can take in the future?" He says they plan to work with local governments and emergency service agencies to develop plans for when the power might be cut. They'll also launch a public awareness campaign later this month in areas where shut downs are most likely. He believes Southern Oregon is most at risk.