Utilities commission approves PG&E’s plan to reduce wildfires

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — In hopes of reducing wildfires this summer, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved Pacific, Gas and Electric’s wildfire mitigation plan.

“This is the first of many wildfire mitigation plan proceedings they will improve each year as we learn what the best practices are,” said utilities commission president Michael Picker.

Under the plan, PG&E will expand inspections of its equipment as well as the trimming and removal of trees that can fall on power lines and spark fires.

The plan also calls for shutting off the power in areas where there is a red flag warning when humidity is very low, winds are high, vegetation is extremely dry and there has been someone on scene to observe this.

But being left in the dark was a major concern for advocates for the disabled.

Those who experience a long power outage, they will have to call 911 and local government for assistance.

“De-energization should be treated like an emergency because the absence of power has life threatening consequences like a natural disaster,” Picker said.

The CPUC made it clear a power shutoff is a last resort and required PG&E to work with the office of emergency services on notification procedures.

No additional rate hikes were approved to pay for the plan, but PG&E will likely point to this plan as part of their upcoming request for a $2 billion rate increase over the next three years.

“We want to make sure that ratepayers aren’t double charged for work that PG&E should have already done [or] for work PG&E already got the money for and haven’t done the work,” said Mark Toney with the Utility Reform Network.

Those hearings for the proposed PG&E rate hike will be held throughout July all over the Bay Area.

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