With hotter, dryer summers becoming more and more common, the risk of wildfires in our area is increasing. And because electrical equipment can be the cause of some wildfires, we’re doing more to reduce the risk and keep you – and Oregon – safe.
For the 2019 fire season, we focused on work that will help prevent wildfires and planning for our response in case fires do happen. That work includes:
- Conducting a fire risk assessment of our service area and locations where we have transmission lines. This assessment will help us refine our wildfire mitigation plans.
- Expanding our tree maintenance program to clear overgrown, dead, dying and diseased trees, and to keep a safe distance between our equipment and surrounding vegetation.
- Replacing or modifying equipment to reduce the risk that it will spark.
- Inspecting equipment and developing recommendations to help reduce the risk of wildfires in our most at-risk areas.
- Adjusting settings on certain electrical switches so that, during fire season, they do not automatically re-close, potentially creating sparks. Instead, during fire season, crews will visually inspect the equipment. This could cause slightly longer outages while the crews perform this work, but this manual process will help protect lives and property.
Planning if a wildfire occurs
- Replacing or modifying equipment so that it can better withstand fires.
- Partnering with the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, local fire districts and emergency responders to coordinate wildfire responses and keep the public informed if incidents occur.
- Training our line crews on basic firefighting. We’ll leave the true firefighting to the professionals, but with this training, our crews will know what to do if a fire ignites at their work scene and can help prevent it from escalating to an even more dangerous situation.
Fire-related power shutoffs?
Power shutoffs have been in the news, most recently in California. The California utilities are doing this to help prevent wildfires in extreme conditions.
Turning off power would be a last-resort decision for us – and we would only do it as a safety precaution. We would also work to minimize the number of customers affected and minimize the amount of time they would be without power. And, we would make sure to keep customers informed of what was happening.
Today, we’re developing ways to keep affected communities and customers informed if this ever becomes necessary, with advance warning and regular updates. To help, we’re working to evaluate what criteria we should use to decide if a public safety power shutoff might be needed to protect lives and property.
To address the ongoing risk of wildfires we’ll continue our commitment to preventive action and planning, in 2020 and beyond. We’ll do this in partnership with other agencies and the Oregon Public Utility Commission, the group responsible for making sure PGE is watching out for customers when it comes to utility services.
If you have any questions about our wildfire safety projects, please call us at 503-612-3730.
Para obtener información en español, por favor llame al 503-612-3730.