Oregon’s electric utilities have filed wildfire mitigation plans with the state’s Public Utility Commission, following the passage of Senate Bill 762, which required and created formal standards for wildfire mitigation plans from power providers.
The state’s three investor-owned utilities – PacifiCorp, Portland General Electric (PGE) and Idaho Power – filed their plans with the regulatory agency last year. The latest plans are from power providers, like cooperatives and municipalities, that are not regulated by the PUC. The plans were reviewed and approved by each utility’s respective governing body, and then filed with the commission. Some 37 plans were received by the PUC between Aug. 27, 2021, and July 7, 2022, with the majority filed last month. One more plan is expected by the end of August.
The utilities’ plans include their processes for rolling out public safety power shutoffs, or PSPS, which refers to proactively de-energizing power lines during weather conditions that increase the risk of wildfire.
“As we anticipate higher than average temperatures in the next week, we appreciate that Oregon electric utilities have gone through the planning process to prepare for a possible PSPS,” PUC Commissioner Letha Tawney said in a statement.
“No utility utilizes a PSPS lightly, but their implementation plans are designed to help keep Oregonians informed and safe in extreme fire weather,” Tawney added.
In April, commissioners approved or conditionally approved the wildfire plans filed by PacifiCorp, PGE and Idaho Power, marking the first set of approvals after SB 762 was passed. PacifiCorp intends to invest $473 million over the next five years in preventing wildfires in its service territory, while PGE forecasted spending $22 million on operations and maintenance costs, and an additional $10 million in capital costs, this year.