USA: PG&E announces enhanced wildfire prevention and safety efforts including expanded inspections; additional support for Camp Fire victims and their families
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced that it will be implementing a series of additional precautionary measures intended to further decrease wildfire threats in communities that are at higher risk of wildfires, as well as additional support for its customers and their families impacted by the Camp Fire in Butte County. The actions that PG&E announced include:
- Implementing a series of additional safety measures, including expanded inspections and other safety precautions intended to further reduce wildfire threats throughout its service area;
- Appointing an officer-level PG&E leader with the responsibility and accountability to oversee the longer-term rebuilding efforts in the fire-impacted area in Butte County.
"The families impacted by Camp Fire are our customers, our neighbors, and our friends, and our hearts go out to those who have lost so much. We are committed to supporting them through the recovery and rebuilding process and helping protect all of the customers we serve from the ever-increasing threat of wildfires," said Geisha Williams, PG&E Corporation CEO and President.
Additional rebuilding steps: Support for those affected by the Camp Fire
PG&E has appointed Aaron Johnson, currently vice president, Electric Operations, as the company's rebuilding officer to lead local community restoration efforts. The rebuilding officer will be responsible for:
- Coordinating with state and local officials to determine how to best modernize and rebuild the energy infrastructure across the impacted area;
- Partnering with the local community to provide additional resources such as housing and support services;
- Working with local leaders to identify and provide assistance to local philanthropic groups; and
- Being accountable to ensure customer questions and concerns are being effectively addressed.
"Aaron has the expertise and experience to lead our on-the-ground response efforts as we continue our efforts to help our customers and their communities recover and start to rebuild," Williams said.
Additional safety and operational enhancements
PG&E will be expanding and enhancing its system-wide Community Wildfire Safety Program (CWSP), which was implemented following the 2017 wildfires as an additional set of precautionary measures intended to further reduce wildfire threats. These new safety and operational actions and enhancements are designed to enhance current safety measures, as well as further inspect and harden the electric system.
"As Californians, we are all faced with the devastating realities of extreme weather and the growing wildfire threat. In recent years, we've made significant changes and additions to our business to combat these weather events, but the climate is changing faster. All of us at PG&E are determined to enact additional safety measures and initiatives that will help further reduce the risk of wildfires and keep customers and communities safe," Williams said. "We are acting decisively now to address these real and growing threats, and we are committed to working together with our regulators, state leaders and customers to consider what additional wildfire safety efforts we can all take to make our communities safer."
Among the safety actions PG&E is taking to address the growing wildfire threat include:
- Detailed and enhanced inspections of electric infrastructure: Conducting detailed safety inspections of more than 5,500 miles of transmission lines (consisting of approximately 50,000 transmission poles and towers in high fire-threat areas), in addition to routine inspections and maintenance. PG&E has already inspected approximately 350 miles of transmission lines in the past several weeks. This includes ground and climbing inspections, as well as aerial imagery captured by drones and in some cases, helicopter, to further complement and enhance visual inspections. If any issues are identified as a potential risk to public safety, PG&E will take action to address them right away. PG&E also plans to begin similar inspections of its distribution lines in high fire-threat areas in early 2019.
- Enhanced vegetation management: As shared in early November and a part of the company's 2020 General Rate Case, addressing vegetation that poses a higher potential for wildfire risk, such as overhanging branches and limbs directly above and around power lines, and trees that are at an increased risk of falling into lines as well as dead and dying trees.
- More real-time monitoring and intelligence: As shared in early November and a part of the company's 2020 General Rate Case, expanding PG&E's weather station network to enhance weather forecasting and modeling. By 2022, PG&E will add approximately 1,300 new weather stations, a density of one station roughly every 20 miles in the high fire-risk areas. In addition, PG&E plans to install nearly 600 new, high definition cameras in high fire-threat areas by 2022, increasing coverage across high fire-risk areas to more than 90 percent.
More information on the Community Wildfire Safety Program is available here.