California Utilities’ Wildfire Prevention Plans Call for More Blackouts

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.

A Tale of Two Californias: Managing Wildfire Risk in the Year 2030

For most of the 20th century, the insurance industry considered wildfires to be little more than a benign nuisance. They occurred frequently but rarely resulted in more than a handful of claims, and underwriters priced for them in the same way as other attritional sources of loss like theft, breakage and sewer back-up.

Then in 1991, everything changed.

Imaging Tech Is Helping Firefighters in Glendale, Calif.

(TNS) — Smoke quickly fills a room the size of a shipping container while two bodies lie on the floor. Within seconds, they completely disappear from view — though not for personnel with the Glendale Fire Department.

The smoke actually came from a fog machine and the bodies were firefighters who volunteered to act as stand-ins as the agency demonstrated its new thermal-imaging cameras on Wednesday. Although the firefighters could no longer be seen with the naked eye, their thermal signatures could be seen as clear as day through the cameras.

Probe Finds PG&E Failed to Inspect Transmission Lines That Caused 2018 Wildfire

Bankrupt California power producer PG&E Corp. did not properly inspect and replace transmission lines before a faulty wire sparked a wildfire that killed more than 80 people in 2018, a probe by a state regulator has concluded.

The Caribou-Palermo transmission line was identified as the cause of the Camp Fire last year, which virtually incinerated the Northern California town of Paradise and stands as the state’s most lethal blaze.

California Has Earthquakes, Wildfires, Floods and Volcanoes

(TNS) - Margaret Mangan didn’t sleep well in the weeks following the Ridgecrest, Calif., earthquakes. The July shaking triggered a swarm of smaller tremors in the nearby Coso Volcanic Field, a cluster of lava domes and cinder cones at the northern end of the Mojave Desert. And it was Mangan’s job to watch for a possible eruption.

“We were pretty much on 24-7 vigilance,” said Mangan, the longtime scientist-in-charge of the U.S. Geological Survey’s California Volcano Observatory.

California Utility Creates New Tech to Stop Wildfires

(TNS) — California utilities are experimenting with a new technology that proponents say could help prevent both electricity shutoffs and equipment failure-related wildfires.

The technology comes as the Pacific Gas & Electric faces intense criticism over its Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which has led to hundreds of thousands of Californians being left without power, often for days at a time, in an effort to prevent failing equipment from starting wildfires.

California Lawmakers Push for Cell Backup After Fires

(TNS) — State legislators plan to push for measures to require at least 72 hours of backup power at cell towers after phone and internet service failed during widespread PG&E power outages.

Many cell towers have generators installed that can run days without refueling, but some have batteries that only last a few hours in locations where space limits or local regulations prohibit more. And in the middle of shut-offs or fire evacuations, companies can’t always access sites to install or refuel generators, cutting off service.

PG&E Cuts Power to 50K California Homes And Businesses During Wildfire Risk

About 50,000 homes and businesses across Northern California were without power on Wednesday during the latest planned outage instituted by utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to guard against risk of wildfire during dry, windy weather.

The precautionary shutoffs included considerably fewer customers than originally projected as a spokeswoman for the utility said improving weather conditions allowed them to keep the lights on in many areas.

Bankrupt PG&E Has a New Plan for California Wildfire Victims

(TNS) — PG&E Corp., struggling to regain control of its destiny as its bankruptcy case enters a pivotal phase, sweetened its offer to Northern California wildfire victims Monday, putting billions of additional dollars on the table to settle claims.

Under increasing pressure from Gov. Gavin Newsom, the utility’s own bondholders and a consortium of municipalities trying to take over the company, PG&E said it would spend an additional $6.6 billion on wildfire claims, a move that could give the troubled utility a greater likelihood of surviving bankruptcy with its business intact.

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