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Oregon gets serious about utility responsibility in preventing wildfires.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
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  • Aug 15, 2022
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In July, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that sought to keep utility PG&E from accessing a multi-billion fund that helps settle wildfire damage lawsuits. The Board of Supervisors in one of California's most politically powerful cities, does not feel that PG&E has done enough repenting for their wildfire sins of the past, of which there have been many. The utility's equipment is responsible for sparking the 2021 Dixie Fire, California's second largest wildfire, as well as the highly destructive 2018 Camp Fire, 2019 Kincade Fire and the 2020 Zogg Fire. The utility just settled six lawsuits for $55 million over the Dixie Fire. 

While PG&E continues to be a menace to the state of California, Oregon legislators have taken note, especially as climate change has made the state more vulnerable to destructive wildfires in recent years. Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill that requires all 41 of the state's electric utilities to submit a comprehensive wildfire prevention plan. The bill, part of a larger group of bills aimed at wildfires that also require notice of power shutoffs and provide regular updates. 

This year marked the first year where utilities were required to submit plans that put everyone on the same page and create a clear thread of accountability in the event of a catastrophe. Although the legislators in Oregon, and throughout the country for that matter, have been looking at PG&E's failures as a worst practice, a major utility in Oregon ran into its own trouble last year when it shut down a transmission line for a week, at the request of the federal government, due to approaching fires. 

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