California utilities plan to continue shutting off customers’ power during dry and windy conditions to prevent possible deadly wildfires, but they will make outages more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans filed Friday with the state, The Associated Press reported.
Plans by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities said wildfire mitigation plans would build on efforts made last year to reduce the risk their equipment would cause deadly wildfires, Kallanish Energy understands.
The plans include more vegetation trimming that can cause a fire when it strikes electrical equipment, and fortifying power lines to make them less likely to throw sparks or become vulnerable to fire damage, AP reported.
The proposed plans filed with the California Public Utilities Commission were required by the state after a series of fires blamed on utilities, including two in 2018 that killed more than 85 people and destroyed roughly 20,000 homes.
Utilities plan to better isolate which electricity circuits must be shut off for safety, which should prevent having to turn off power to more customers. Fire conditions last fall led utilities to cut power to millions of customers, creating problems that extended well beyond areas that were at risk of burning.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), whicgh is operating under protection of Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to wildfire liabilities, was heavily criticized for not taking a more targeted approach.
The utility said in a news release outages would be “smaller in scope and shorter in duration” and it would lessen “overall impacts of shutoffs while working to keep customers and communities safe during times of severe weather and high wildfire risk.”
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