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Public Safety Power Shutoffs

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Climate change is increasing the occurrence of conditions that lead to out-of-control wildfires. Any ignition source in wildlands with an abundance of dry brush guarantees a wildfire. Major utilities understand this and have started to resort to the title of this paper.

However, this paper is not about the wildfires, but rather where the public safety power shutoffs are likely to occur, and reasonable steps residents of these areas can take to prepare for them.

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John Benson's picture

Thank John for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 9, 2019 6:49 pm GMT

What are your thoughts to some of the push back to these sort of proposals-- that the disruptions and potential hazards of such power shutoffs might not be worth the benefits gained in safety increases (i.e., not that public safety isn't worth it, but the increase to safety isn't significant enough)?

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Jul 10, 2019 3:31 pm GMT

Thanks for the question, Matt.

I believe they are reasonable, given our circumstances in California.

If you look at the map linked in the post, you will note that the highest risk areas (tier 3) are in areas with low populations, but that still have small communities, and either in low forests or foothill bushlands. In the former we are used to extended power outages (albeit in winter). Even though around Arnold the various government entities have done a reasonable job of managing the fire risk, Occasionally a fire will migrate in from another riskier area (like the foothill bushlands). This especially the case with our extended summer-to-fall north, dry high wind events, and also during draught years. These are getting worse with time (I've written several posts on these), and I believe they will continue to do so as the effects of climate change worsen.

The safety shutoffs are a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful area. Many others in many other areas have and will continue to pay much higher prices in future years and decades.


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