PG&E’s new safety measure has led to 50-percent decrease in potential ignitions
Changes have made the electric system safer, but they have resulted in more frequent, longer-duration outages for some
– The threat of wildfire in California and other western states continues to grow. Severe drought conditions, dry fuels and rising temperatures are driving unprecedented increases in the potential risk for wildfires. To combat this increased risk, PG&E is continuing to evolve their wildfire prevention efforts for the safety of customers and communities.
One of the new steps that they have taken is adjusting the power line safety settings of protection devices on the grid to automatically turn off electricity more quickly if the lines experience an issue. These can include tree branches, mylar balloons, and even wildlife striking equipment. By adjusting the sensitivity of these settings, power shuts off faster, reducing wildfire risk. Since these updated settings were implemented in late July 2020, PG&E has seen a decrease of more than 50-percent in ignitions that could have resulted in catastrophic wildfires, as compared to the prior three-year average.
While these settings make the electric system safer, they have resulted in more frequent, longer-duration outages for some.
Here are some of the steps they are taking right now:
• Fine tuning the sensitivity of each protection device to match the wildfire risk on each circuit
• Improving communication between equipment to automatically limit outage size
• Enhancing restoration patrols to restore power more quickly when it goes out
• Revamping the information that they are able to share with customers during an outage
On Sept. 7, a PG&E technician responding to an outage found an oak tree that had broken and fallen on a power line, taking down two poles and the power line with it. This occurred in an area at a high risk for wildfire, with difficult access for firefighters if a wildfire had started.
Some customers may qualify for a Portable Battery and Generator Rebate program. Visit pge.com/wildfiresafety to learn more. There, you can also find more information about why they’re raising the sensitivity on electric equipment in high fire threat areas. Click on the tab entitled, “Learn about enhanced power line safety settings.”