- Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on April 25 filed revisions to its wildfire mitigation proposal before the California Public Utilities Commission, asking to push back inspection and corrective action deadlines the utility is unlikely to meet.
- PG&E is proposing to alter deadlines for fixes on its distribution and transmission system, pushing them back from specific dates to "as soon thereafter as is feasible in light of weather conditions and other external factors." Access issues and the federal government shutdown earlier this year also stymied safety efforts, the utility said.
- Both San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) told Utility Dive they have no plans to file revisions to their own wildfire safety proposals. The state is rushing to finalize the utility plans and approvals are expected in May.
PG&E's wildfire mitigation plans are facing fresh scrutiny after the utility's revised proposal noted the scope of proactive de-energization efforts and sought to remove inspection and action deadlines.
“PG&E must take a leading role in addressing the threat of wildfire in California," the utility said in a statement to Utility Dive. "The amendment that the company submitted to the commission addresses certain external conditions that will likely prevent full completion of some targets by the original timelines and modifies them to allow for improvements to the original plan from lessons learned."
Under PG&E's original February proposal, the utility would have completed an enhanced review of its distribution system poles by May 31, but the revised target would be either the original date "or, for impacted locations, as soon thereafter as is feasible in light of weather conditions and other external factors."
Similar timeline revisions are proposed for inspections and corrective action deadlines on its transmission system.
The revised plan also provided more details about the potential for widespread blackouts, in the event it must proactively shut down some transmission lines in times of high wind. PG&E said it has "expanded the scope" of its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program to include high voltage transmission lines.
"If these high voltage transmission lines are de-energized during a PSPS event, the interconnected nature of the grid could result in a cascading effect that causes other transmission lines and distribution lines — potentially far from the original fire-risk areas — to be de-energized," the utility said.
That means areas far from high-risk zones, like San Francisco or San Jose, could be de-energized.
San Francisco is not in a high risk area "and is highly unlikely to experience the kind of climate and weather conditions that would trigger a PSPS event. Nor does San Francisco present wildfire risk," PG&E explained. "But San Francisco could possibly be de-energized if multiple East Bay transmission lines were to be de-energized due to extreme conditions."
California is rushing to finalize wildfire mitigation plans ahead of the next fire season, following a 2018 law that bolstered safety requirements. A review of the plans kicked off in February, and approvals are expected next month.