PG&E presents preparedness plan to CPUC on Public Safety Power Shutoffs, wildfires

ByKayla Galloway KGO logo
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
PG&E details preparedness plan for 2021 power shutoffs, wildfires
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The California Public Utilities Commission briefing featured a presentation from PG&E on how it's preparing for power shutoffs and wildfires.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The California Public Utilities Commission held a briefing Tuesday afternoon with representatives from CAL FIRE, PG&E and the California Office of Emergency Services ahead of possible power shutoffs during this year's wildfire season.

The briefing featured a presentation from PG&E on how the agency is preparing for power shutoffs and this year's wildfire season.

California wildfires have already burned a half-million acres of land just this year, according to utilities commissioner Marybel Batjer, who gave opening remarks during the meeting.

The Dixie Fire, burning in the Sierra Nevada, is now the 11th largest fire in the state's history, she said.

RELATED: PG&E says its equipment may be linked to Dixie Fire burning in Northern California

The purpose of Tuesday's meeting was to discuss PG&E's preparedness for the wildfire season and the utility's plans to lessen the impact of power shutoffs this year.

Batjer says Public Safety Power Shutoffs should be a last resort.

"PG&E has the responsibility to manage their grid responsibly," she said.

CAL FIRE's Daniel Berlant said power shutoffs could come as soon as this weekend.

He said firefighters have been on the frontlines of more fires this year than during this same time in 2020.

"The 2021 fire season is off to a busy start," he said.

RELATED: Pace of California wildfires in 2021 well ahead of disastrous 2020

"This year's fire season, if anything like last, will go late into the fall," he went on to say.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of California's Office of Emergency Services, said PG&E has made improvements in their efforts to limit power shutoffs.

"Despite the drier conditions and larger number of fires, we saw a decrease in the hours of time that PSPSs were implemented (last year,)" he said.

PG&E says several factors must be met before the utility issues a power shutoff.

This includes sustained winds above 19 miles per hour, as well as fuel moisture and relative humidity.

"Public safety power shutoffs are a necessary tool in preventing catastrophic wildfires and will only be used as a measure of last resort, and never a measure of first resort," said Sumeet Singh, PG&E's senior vice president and chief risk officer.

Tuesday's briefing was the third of four the CPUC hosted with major utilities in California .

For more on PG&E's preparedness plan for Public Safety Power Shutoffs, watch the video in the media player above

VIDEO: How bad will CA's fire season be? Here's what we know, what we don't

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