Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Jan. 26, 2021

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Clark Public Utilities says blackouts not in plan amid area wildfires

By , Columbian business reporter

Clark Public Utilities says it currently has no plans to implement any preemptive blackouts in response to local wildfires.

California-based utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric made headlines during last year’s fire season when it implemented a series of preemptive shutoffs in high-risk areas, impacting about 800,000 customers, due to concerns that power lines could spark new blazes amid dry and windy weather conditions.

PG&E implemented a new round of preemptive blackouts earlier this week amid the ongoing record-breaking spate of wildfires up and down the West Coast. Portland General Electric followed suit, announcing Monday that it would temporarily shut off power to about 4,000 customers near Mount Hood as a “last resort” precaution — a first for the Oregon utility company.

Clark Public Utilities media specialist Dameon Pesanti said the agency is monitoring the local fire situation closely, but there’s currently no need for any preemptive shutoffs.

Pesanti cited the agency’s vegetation management practices as one of the reasons why Clark County faces a relatively lower risk of wildfires sparked by power infrastructure.

“Throughout the year, we’ve invested very heavily in vegetation management to ensure that our lines are as safe as possible in the heavily vegetated areas,” he said.

Clark Public Utilities spends about $1 million per year on trimming and other management efforts, he said, particularly in high-risk areas. The agency has also been dispatching water and fire trailers to accompany its work crews in high-risk areas this week.

Pesanti urged residents to report any power outages or safety issues immediately but stressed that they should call Clark Public Utilities rather than 911 unless there’s a fire, injury or other imminent danger. Outages can be reported at 360-992-8000 or clarkpublicutilities.com.