Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 05:30

California utilities plan to continue shutting off power to customers during dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, but they aim to make outages more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans filed with the state.

Plans by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities said wildfire mitigation plans would build on efforts made last year to reduce the risk their equipment would cause deadly infernos.

The thrust of the plans is to expand vegetation trimming that can cause a fire when it strikes electrical equipment and fortify power lines to make them less likely to throw sparks or become vulnerable to fire damage.

The proposed plans filed with the California Public Utilities Commission were required by the state after a series of catastrophic fires blamed on utilities, including two in 2018 that killed more than 85 people and destroyed about 20,000 homes.

Work proposed under the wildfire mitigation plans should help decrease the need for power outages over time, but they will remain a necessity in extreme fire danger.

Utilities plan to better isolate which circuits need to be shut off for safety, which should prevent having to turn off the lights on larger swaths of customers.

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