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California utility to cover power lines to reduce fire risk

(AP/KSBY) – A Southern California utility wants to spend $582 million to cover some power lines and deploy cameras in areas at high risk for wildfires.

Southern California Edison shared its plans Monday with legislative employees. It comes as the utility is dealing with cleanup and repairs following the Woolsey Fire that tore through Los Angeles and Ventura counties in November.

The cause of that fire remains under investigation. The utility reported to the Public Utilities Commission on Thursday it’s investigating whether an outage just before the fire sparked may have been caused by two wires making contact.

In October, Edison admitted that its electrical equipment may have been responsible for at least one origin point of the 2017 Thomas Fire. The utility company faces several lawsuits related to that fire, accusing it of starting the destructive blaze.

Many other utilities already insulate or cover power lines to minimize risks. Southern California Edison officials estimate its new mitigation plans will add an extra $1.20 to the average monthly bill.

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas & Electric Company plans to inspect 5,500 miles of transmission lines as a safety measure against wildfires.

The utility also said Monday it’s appointing a company vice president to lead local rebuilding efforts in Butte County, which was partially destroyed by the November wildfire that destroyed more than 13,000 homes.

Other safety measures the company says it is undertaking are enhanced vegetation management and expanding its weather station network. It plans to add 1,300 new weather stations by 2022 to better monitor high-hazard weather conditions.

The utility is facing multiple lawsuits related to recent wildfires. The cause of the Camp Fire in Butte County hasn’t yet been determined.

 

KSBY Staff

KSBY Staff

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