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Recently on PG&E Currents, the company highlighted the lessons learned from a late August 2023, Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) they conducted to ensure customer safety. PG&E recognized the frustration power outages can cause and explained that such tactics are implemented as a last resort when extreme weather conditions pose a potential fire hazard. PG&E is constantly looking for ways to minimize the impact of PSPS, while still prioritizing public safety.

After any PSPS event, PG&E conducts a thorough evaluation to assess the effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. One crucial aspect of this process is the work done by the PG&E meteorology team. They use verified information about damage and hazards found during patrols, along with weather data at the time of de-energization, to run a wildfire-spread model with Technosylva’s Wildfire Analyst™ platform. This helps to illustrate the potential impact of not implementing a PSPS.

“The value is trying to prove one of the hardest things that’s possible – trying to prove a negative,” said Scott Strenfel, Senior Director of Meteorology & Fire Science with PG&E. “This is an established way that shows what could have been if we had not had a Public Safety Power Shutoff.”

And the proof was indeed seen. The blog shares that, “For this PSPS, one incident of damage was confirmed…Had that powerline not been de-energized, a spark could have led to an ignition that ultimately could have started a 4,700-acre fire that would have burned in an area with 86 buildings and where 65 people live.”