SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) – The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved PG&E’s wildfire mitigation plan.
The plan includes de-energization as necessary to prevent potentially deadly fires in the state.
Following the deadly wildfires northern California has had the last few years, utilities companies like PG&E are now required to submit mitigation plans to the CPUC. It’s new territory for all involved parties.
“It’s not something that is clear and well laid out. There’s no example of a perfect plan any place that we’ve looked,” CPUC President Michael Picker said.
A couple weeks ago, Cal Fire investigators determined the deadliest fire in our state’s history, the camp fire, was caused by transmission lines owned and operated by PG&E. That’s why the gas and electric company will de-energize high voltage transmission lines in some circumstances.
People with disabilities spoke against cutting power unless it’s an absolute emergency.
“De-energization should be treated like an emergency event because the absence of power has life-threatening consequences,” disability rights attorney Sidney Picker said.
As part of the plan, the utility will now ramp up inspections by 130 to 400-percent compared to 2018, expand the use of coverage conductors through system hardening, and expand vegetation management.
The commissioners made it clear that utilities are just one part of wildfire safety, and that vegetation management is also a critical piece.