Southern California Edison today filed an annual update to its 2020-22 Wildfire Mitigation Plan with the California Public Utilities Commission. This year’s filing highlights adjustments that demonstrate the iterative and adaptive nature of the three-year plan to reduce the risk of fire ignitions caused by utility infrastructure during extreme weather conditions. Many of the mitigation measures will also lead to the reduction and frequency of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) events, which have caused hardship to many of SCE’s customers.
“ The worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is undeniable, and some of our local communities had the added hardship of PSPS due to extreme weather conditions,” said Steve Powell, SCE’s executive vice president of Operations. “We share in the urgency in reducing wildfire risk, and our Wildfire Mitigation Plan reflects this. With safety as our number one priority, we will continue to focus on working to protect our communities regardless of what Mother Nature has in store for us.”
The company takes seriously the commission’s recent recommendations and customer comments during a public meeting on Jan. 26 related to SCE’s PSPS execution during the 2020 wildfire season. SCE will file a PSPS action plan on Feb. 12 that responds to commission, customer and community concerns.
With another year of PSPS data, SCE will continue to review opportunities to accelerate mitigations for circuits that are frequently subject to PSPS events and evaluate new customer programs and resources.
SCE began implementing wildfire mitigation activities in 2018. This latest update incorporates lessons learned and reflects the continued progress the company has made in its analytical, engineering and process maturity.
This year, SCE looks forward to making significant progress in the following key focus areas:
- Refining its high fire risk inspections strategy to include inspections in targeted areas based on emergent conditions, including fire weather conditions such as dry fuels;
- Expanding its system hardening activities to include long-span remediation by installing line spacers on long power lines that are prone to conductor-to-conductor contact during windy conditions;
- Establishing central data platforms for next-generation data analytics and governance;
- Improving fire agencies’ ability to detect and respond to emerging fires using satellite imagery and providing aerial fire suppression resources (e.g., helitankers) to fire agencies to help protect communities in SCE’s service area;
SCE last year estimated it would invest about $3.8 billion to implement the 2020-22 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. The company devoted $1.3 billion last year and is on track to spend an additional $3.5 billion in 2021-2022. Primary drivers of the increase in forecast are expanded inspections and maintenance and data governance as well as a rise in labor costs driven by California’s Senate Bill 247.
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