Portland General Electric
Coaching a Successful Team to Ramp Up Utility Fire Prevention
No electric grid operator ever wants a downed power line to start a fire. The impacts of drought and climate change have accelerated in the Western United States, as more and more populations move into areas of dense trees and tinder-dry fuel. The rules, standards and practices for electric grid operators have to quickly change.
Portland General Electric (PGE) is a fully integrated energy company based in Portland, Oregon, providing energy to 44 percent of the inhabitants of Oregon.
PGE is one of the many grid operators working hard to catch up to new climate conditions and new expectations. In one fierce windstorm over Labor Day weekend of 2020, the company shut off power to rural customers where there was danger of electrical lines falling or trees and vegetation being blown into live wires. While PGE was able to avoid any ignitions, other Oregon utilities were investigated for starting fires and are facing major lawsuits.
When the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and the Oregon Legislature began to adopt new formal policies for wildfire prevention and tough new standards for electric utilities, PGE reached out to Caliber’s Michael Picker, who as President of the California Public Utilities Commission, worked on California rules for utility wildfire prevention. He helped PGE to respond to legislative and regulator questions and worked with PGE’s staff to draft a newly mandated Wildfire Management Plan, which was approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.
TOPIC / KEYWORDS:
Wildfire Risk Mitigation, Resiliency, Energy Grid, Energy Policy, Government Advisors, Utility, Policy, Climate Change
PGE’s leadership, under Maria Pope, moved quickly to address fire risks in the Oregon utility’s service area.
Their new team sought to learn more about what did and didn’t work well in California’s efforts through consulting with Caliber.
PGE’s wildfire plans were accepted by the Oregon Public Utility Commission; local elected officials expressed their support.