Electric shutoffs approved
Oregon readies for 2022 Wildfire season
May 19, 2022 | View PDF
SALEM: The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved permanent rules for electric utilities. Temporary rules were implemented for the 2021 wildfire season while the PUC, utilities, public safety partners, and communities worked to finalize permanent rules.
This is a timely decision as May is National Wildfire Awareness Month and wildfire season quickly approaches. A PSPS is an important safety measure designed to help protect people and communities in high fire-risk areas by proactively shutting off electricity during extreme and dangerous weather conditions.
De-energizing power lines through a PSPS is a wildfire risk mitigation strategy of last resort because of the significant impacts the loss of power can have on communities and the extensive planning and communication that are needed to effectively implement them. These new rules lay out specific communication requirements for the utilities to inform public safety partners, state agencies, local jurisdictions, and the public of the need to implement a PSPS to mitigate wildfire risk, as well as updates at least every 24 hours until service is restored. “Extreme fire weather can clearly happen throughout Oregon,” said Letha Tawney, PUC Commissioner. “Implementing a PSPS is a complex decision that impacts communities including the use of home medical devices, access to 911 services, and the ability to pump water. However, it's a tool in the utility’s tool kit to help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, if they determine necessary.”
The PUC is reminding Oregonians to get ready for the 2022 wildfire season and potential power outages. While the utilities have identified high-risk zones, under extreme conditions PSPS could be utilized more widely.
How to prepare for Wildfires
- Register to receive alerts from official sources. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Also, sign up for emergency notifications with your local city and/or county, as well as outage alerts from your electric utility service provider.
- Develop an emergency plan and make sure everyone in your household knows and understands what to do in the event of an evacuation.
- Create a circle of safety around your home, which is a fuel-free defensible space that can help reduce fire danger. Visit Keep Oregon Green for more information https://keeporegongreen..org/prevent-wildfires/at-home/