SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says it will start switching off power at times of extreme fire danger to reduce the risk of sparks.
Thursday’s commitment comes as part of stepped-up wildfire measures from PG&E.
The utility faces possible liability as California investigators determine whether its electrical equipment sparked October wildfires. The fires killed 44 people in Northern California and caused a state-estimated $9 billion in property damage.
Some officials have pushed PG&E to do more against wildfires, including installing power shut-off systems and burying power lines.
PG&E spokesman Matt Nauman says the utility recognizes that there can be times when proactively turning off power lines is warranted and says the utility will work with emergency officials, local authorities and others to develop guidelines for such cut-offs.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will create around-the-clock wildfire prediction and response center in San Francisco and hire firefighters on retainer as part of its plan to prevent wildfires or contain them once they erupt.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Thursday the utility will add hundreds of weather stations to its network to monitor conditions. It plans to replace wooden poles with steel ones so the electrical grid can better endure windstorms.
The utility says it’s also considering putting more power lines underground.
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