California Wildfires and Bulk Electric System Reliability [October 28, 2019]   [open pdf - 517KB]

From the Document "Many regions of the United States are susceptible to wildfires during droughts, with lightning being a frequent cause. California has been particularly affected in recent years. Since 2000, California has experienced 15 of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state's history. However, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, electric utilities in California were responsible for several of these wildfires. [...] The 2019 California wildfires have resulted in a statewide emergency declaration. Earlier this year, PG&E [Pacific Gas & Electric] announced a new wildfire mitigation plan in response to California Senate Bill (SB) 901 requiring all California electric utilities to prepare plans on constructing, maintaining, and operating their electrical lines and equipment to minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire, which could involve shutting down power to thousands of customers to reduce the risks of wildfire. On October 8, 2019, PG&E implemented its plan, shutting off power to about 525,000 customers. Other California utilities announced similar outage plans in anticipation of strong winds of hurricane-force strength. [...] As residential communities continue to be built in areas prone to wildfires, the wildfire risk to human life and property is increased. According to a recent peer-reviewed study published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the area where houses sit within or directly adjacent to natural vegetation, increased by 33% between 1990 and 2010 nationwide. The study states that 'WUI growth often results in more wildfire ignitions, putting more lives and houses at risk. Wildfire problems will not abate if recent housing growth trends continue.'"

Report Number:
CRS Insight, IN11189
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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