Selective Rolling Power Outages to Prevent Wind-Driven Wildfires
It is unlikely that California will be the only state to experience wildfire and weather related power outages this summer and fall. For example, this April is the second most active April since 1950 for tornadoes across the US, according to weather.com.
California Fire (Cal Fire) investigators have determined that the cause of the deadly Camp Fire which killed 85 people and nearly wiped out the town of Paradise, CA in 2018 was due to downed high power transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E).
After further review, it has been determined that PG&E equipment was the cause of at least 12 additional wildfires in California Wine Country over the last few years, including one of the biggest in state history the Thomas Fire.
As a result, in February of 2019, PG&E filed updates to its California Wildfire mitigation plan with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announcing under dangerous conditions the high voltage power lines will be de-energized in high fire-threat areas.
PG&E says that as certain lines are de-energized, it could cause a domino effect in the system, resulting in a larger power outage that could impact more than 5 million customers who receive electric utility service from PG&E.
The CPUC has required utilities to outline plans for notifications of shut-offs (PDF). But this being the first year of implementation, the definition of how early notification will be done is unclear and untested.
It is recommended that critical power facilities evaluate their utility service coverage immediately and assess their ability to withstand the potential loss of grid power, and the need for a backup power system.
Some of these facilities include:
In California, it will be more important than ever to have a backup power plan in place.
Global Power Supply has been engaged in a multi-year effort to build awareness on business power continuity and backup power preparedness on many topics:
Backup Power System Preparedness Checklist
Summer Is Coming – Plan Now For Increased Power Outages
Hurricanes & Rental Generators
Time to "ADOPT" a Backup Power Plan for Power Outages
Read more GPS preparedness articles.
More ResourcesPG&E’s Electric Service Territory in California
PG&E Wildfire Support
CAL Fire Fact Sheet on Wildfire Risk
California's largest utility warns tens of thousands of people could see power shut off due to extreme fire risk