Pacific Gas and Electric promises to enhance wildfire prevention
Around 5 million California consumers may lose power temporarily in this year due to wildfire prevention if the safety proposal of about $2.3 billion which was submitted on Wednesday by Pacific Gas and Electric’s [PG&E] gets certified.
The preventive blackout strategy was disclosed by PG&E for the first time at the end of previous year, by obtaining the regulatory permission to turn out lights for around 570,000 users who are living in the wildfire-prone region mainly during high danger climate condition.
During the regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E had urged for the approval to shut down the power especially during the wildfire threats across its complete system which was providing service to around 5.4 million customers in the central parts of the state and the northern parts.
A consumer advocacy group said that they are upset over the functionality significance on blackouts.
The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco based organization, said that the proposal of PG&E’s to shut down power during the wildfire threats needs to be an immediate response rather than only being a standard preventive measure.
Mindy Spatt, the Spokeswoman, spoke to PG&E over the phone to enhance the safety of its equipment’s and focus more on training its employees rather than cutting down power. The customers will be hurt, she added.
In response to the growing financial, legal and public pressure the utility had pledged to improve most of its wildfire prevention measures for its responsibility to start some of the most deadly fires in the history of California.
The embattled utility also promised to increase investigations, by cutting more trees and by working the forest experts to reduce its responsibility in starting wildfires.
In response to the destructive 2017 wildfires, a new state law was passed that needed the utilities of the states to register their wildfire prevention plan with the California Public utility Commission. The agency scheduled various public meetings to examine and to make changes in the proposals before they were accepted.
A federal judge said that he is doubtful about the safety commitment of the PG&E and also asked about the wildfire plan.
The District Judge of U.S William Alsup is threatening to charge with the sweeping prevention measure on the utility, PG&E proposals informed that it might cost more than $150 billion. On Wednesday the utility said that the plan would cost within $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion.
Last month Alsup ruled out that the response of PG&E’s regarding the 2017 wildfire violated probation terms have been added in its felony conviction over a toxic natural pipeline explosion of 2010 in a suburb of San Francisco.
Response to this, Alsup suggested to inspect PG&E workers, document and to rate every inch of its electric system of 2,400 square miles and also to withdraw or to trim the trees that are threatening to reach the equipment and start fires. PG&E mentioned that it needs to remove almost 100 million trees. PG&E’s statement will be considered later, Alsup mentioned.
On Wednesday PG&E planned to remove 375,000 trees during this year, while it had already cut 160,000 of trees in the previous year. The in-depth pole inspection will also be increased from 9,400 in the previous year to around 40,600 in this year and developing around 200 weather stations in addition to the existing stations of 200, PG&E stated.
The utility also stated that it has proposed to bury underground or cover the insulation of 150 miles with plain wire in the coming year and around 7,100 miles during the next decade.
The fire authorities of the state accused PG&E equipment’s citing the reason for 17 major wildfires during the past two years. The San Francisco based utility is going through more than 1,000 wildfire cases. In the previous month, the utility has filed for bankruptcy, stating that the cases might cost them more than $30 billion.
On Wednesday seven other utilities namely Southern California Edison and Diego Gas and Electric presented their plans although not even one of them included the important reform plans that were proposed by PG&E.