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California Plans Power Outages to Prevent Wildfires

Facility managers preparing for extended electrical outages

June 6, 2019

California’s largest energy companies are warning the state’s facility managers and homeowners to prepare for extended power outages this summer as they plan to deactivate power lines more frequently in extreme weather to help prevent wildfires, Half Moon Bay Review reports.

San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG & E) are all planning proactive power outages during certain weather conditions, including a National Weather Service red flag warning, humidity levels at 20% or below, winds forecast at a sustained 25 mph, or wind gusts in excess of 45 mph and conditions that include dry fuel. State fire investigators determined that at least 17 of the 21 major fires last year in Northern California, including the Camp Fire that killed more than 80 people, were caused by power lines, poles, and other equipment owned by PG & E.

PG & E officials predict a public safety power shutoff could occur several times a year and last up to 48 hours. They encourage all power customers to have an emergency plan for extended outages.

CMM offers 10 tips to help facility managers during disaster recovery situations, including power outages.Tractor-trailers with large, mobile generators can be hooked into the electrical system to restore power. Make sure to keep the generator dry, as short circuits may occur in wet conditions, which can cause a generator fire. It’s also important to not “back feed” power by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. Back feeding will put you and others at serious risk as the utility transformer can increase low voltage from the generator to thousands of volts.

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