To Prepare for Wildfire Season, PG&E Announces Comprehensive Community Wildfire Safety Program

This is a press release from Pacific Gas and Electric Company:

PG&ESAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— To help meet the climate-driven challenge of increasing wildfires and extreme weather events, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced a comprehensive Community Wildfire Safety Program.

PG&E is working in close coordination with first responders, civic and community leaders and customers on this program. These efforts will have an immediate impact on reducing wildfire threats and improving safety, in advance of the start of wildfire season in Northern and Central California.

Years of drought, extreme heat and 129 million dead trees have created a “new normal” for California. In the interest of public safety, and following the wildfires in 2017, PG&E is implementing additional precautionary measures intended to reduce the risk of wildfires.  PG&E is continuously evolving its operating practices in response to new standards and regulations – but this new normal means even more must be done in partnership to strengthen the safety and resilience of the state’s energy infrastructure.

The multi-faceted program focuses on three key areas:

  • bolstering wildfire prevention and emergency response efforts;
  • working with customers and first responders to put in place new and enhanced safety measures; and
  • doing more over the long term to harden the electric system to help reduce wildfire threats and to keep customers safe.

“Our system and our mindset need to be laser-focused on working together to help prevent devastating wildfires like the ones in the North Bay in October and in Southern California in December from happening again, and in responding quickly and effectively if they do,” said Pat Hogan, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, which is what the Community Wildfire Safety Program is all about.”

Among the actions that PG&E is taking:

Wildfire Prevention and Emergency Response

  • Establishing a Wildfire Safety Operations Center to monitor wildfire risks in real-time and coordinate prevention and response efforts with first responders.
  • Securing additional PG&E firefighting resources to respond to wildfires, protect poles, power lines and other electrical equipment during fires, and assist utility crews working in high fire danger areas.
  • Expanding the company’s weather forecasting and modeling by installing a network of PG&E-owned and operated weather stations across the service area.

New and Enhanced Safety Measures

  • Augmenting PG&E’s already rigorous vegetation management practices based on the High Fire-Threat District map adopted in January 2018 by the California Public Utilities Commission. New standards require keeping trees and limbs farther away from power lines. We also will be working to create fire safety zones around power lines in the highest fire-threat areas.
  • Refining and executing protocols for proactively turning off electric power lines in areas where extreme fire conditions are occurring, and implementing the appropriate communications and resources to help inform, prepare and support our customers and communities.
  • Expanding our practice of disabling line reclosers and circuit breakers in high fire-risk areas during fire season.

Electric System Hardening Over the Long Term

  • Investing in stronger, coated power lines, spacing lines farther apart to prevent line-on-line contact during wind storms, and replacing wood poles with non-wood poles in the coming years.
  • Expanding our practice of pre-treating electric poles with long-term fire retardant in areas where the fire danger is high.
  • Partnering with communities to develop and integrate microgrids to help support community facility resilience in the event of major natural disasters.

Hogan, who has participated in recent legislative and regulatory hearings on wildfires, noted that PG&E won’t be able to do this alone. It will require a comprehensive and collaborative partnership that includes civic and community leaders, first responders and other public safety authorities, state leaders, and energy companies.

“All of us need to work together to make decisions and put in place solutions based on the dynamics of climate change and severe weather events,” Hogan said. “Our communities are depending on us to take strong and preventive actions that will protect our state’s energy future and help reduce the risk of wildfire in California.”

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

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5 comments

  • PGE needs to stop hiring contract foresters and do the work themselves. A PGE trained forester will do a better job, get paid more, and take some pride in their work.

    • possibly, their end of line contractors are definitely shit.

      i am just tired of being harassed by pg&e’s various departments every two or three months over wanting to cut more and more down. that and their lies about stuff not being sufficiently clear.

      i swear it seems like they wont be happy till they have clear cut everything. i don’t know if its just their contractors are greedy and want to find any way to charge for more feild work, or that they just can’t settle on policys.

  • I sure wish they’d cut the trees that are in front of my house, ready to fall across Central momentarily. They are all through the wires here, too.

  • PGE is run by lawyers that only cares about the bottom line. Screw customers and landowners who are unlucky enough to have poles on their property. PGE trashes your roads and leaves the garbage off the poles among other crap. The only reason to clear along the lines is the threat of lawsuits otherwise they wouldn’t.

    PGE is one of the largest contributors of carbon dioxide that is contributing to climate change.

    And cleanest energy my ass. Most electricity for California is from coal plants in the mid west routed through Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Out if sight, out of mind.

    PR wants you to believe roses come out of the smokestacks instead of radioactive thorium and uranium in the particulate cloud. Doesn’t blow toward California so who cares.

  • The contract Fire engines that they think they are gonna hire during Fire season are also signed up with the USFS and private insurance companies like Chubb for that same time frame. There are no ‘ extra fire resources’ anywhere once a big Fire siege gets going. PGE needs another plan, not just to hope contract engines will be available if needed, and throwing their hands up in the air and claiming they ‘tried’ when they dont get them..

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