LOS ANGELES — California utilities plan to continue turning off power to consumers throughout dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, but they intend to make blackouts more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans submitted Friday with the state.
Plans by the state’s 3 largest investor-owned energies said wildfire mitigation strategies would build on efforts made last year to reduce the threat their equipment would cause lethal infernos.
In this Oct. 18, 2019, file picture, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, workers bury energy lines in Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
The thrust of the strategies is to expand vegetation cutting that can trigger a fire when it strikes electrical equipment and strengthen power lines to make them less most likely to throw triggers or become vulnerable to fire damage.
The proposed plans submitted with the California Public Utilities Commission were required by the state after a series of disastrous fires blamed on utilities, consisting of two in 2018 that eliminated more than 85 individuals and ruined about 20,000 homes.
In this Oct. 31, 2019, file image, smoke from the Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
Work proposed under the wildfire mitigation strategies must assist decrease the requirement for power outages in time, however they will remain a necessity in extreme fire threat.
Energies plan to much better isolate which circuits need to be shut off for safety, which should prevent needing to switch off the lights on larger swaths of clients.
Fire conditions last fall led utilities to cut power to millions of customers, developing headaches that extended well beyond locations that were at danger of burning. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was greatly slammed for not taking a more targeted approach.
In this Aug. 15, 2019, file picture, a Pacific Gas & Electric employee strolls in front of a truck in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
PG&E said in a news release that failures would be “smaller in scope and shorter in duration” and it would minimize “total effects of shutoffs while working to keep consumers and neighborhoods safe throughout times of extreme weather condition and high wildfire risk.”
Southern California Edison said it will also use new innovation to identify issues before a fire is sparked or when power lines get knocked down.