Oregon utility announces wildfire prevention policies in wake of California tragedies

Source(s)
Oregon Public Broadcasting

By Erin Ross

PORTLAND — As Oregon braces for another hot and dry summer, one of its biggest utility companies has announced a new wildfire policy aimed at reducing wildfire risks across their service area.

“We want to make sure, going forward, that we’re keeping communities safe during those high-wind and dry conditions,” said Scott Bolton, the senior vice president of external affairs and customer solutions at Pacific Power.

The new policies, announced last week, include clearing vegetation around power lines and poles, increasing inspections at facilities, training their field crews in wildfire suppression, and installing local weather stations to help identify high fire risk days. They also plan to implement “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” if dangerous weather is expected in high fire risk areas. If the power is cut before the wind blows down lines, there’s less risk of fire.

Electricity providers have been under increased scrutiny since a number of wildfires in California were linked to downed power lines during windstorms, improperly maintained power stations, and areas where brush had grown too close to electrical infrastructure.

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