On Thursday, PG&E submitted a detailed response to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) outlining how its proposed Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) criteria may impact the size and frequency of PSPS events across their service territory.
PG&E has been under intense pressure from U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation, to dramatically reduce the risk of utility-caused wildfire, including through expanded use of PSPS events to prevent these wildfire ignitions from electrical equipment. While Judge Alsup recently backed away from requiring PG&E to take specific actions to deenergize power lines that are at risk of being struck by nearby trees, PG&E is using its discretion to revise criteria it uses to determine when power lines should be shut down to give greater consideration to tree overstrike risk.
The CPUC requested more granular information about the specific impacts that these new criteria would have in communities across the state, including how many more events counties may experience and how many more customers may be impacted in those counties. Among the most significant projections, PG&E notes that the new criteria could result in:
- Butte, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Yuba Counties experiencing an additional 1.9 to 2.5 PSPS events per year.
- Amador, Calaveras, Humboldt, Lake, Madera, Napa, Plumas, Sonoma, Trinity, and Tuolumne Counties experiencing an additional 1 to 1.7 PSPS events per year.
- Trinity County experiencing a 59% increase in average PSPS event duration.
- Shasta and Tehama Counties experiencing a 39-42% increase in average PSPS event duration.
- Contra Costa, Mariposa, Mendocino, and Sierra Counties experiencing a 20%-29% increase in average PSPS event duration.
- Contra Costa, Shasta, and Trinity Counties experiencing a 108% to 149% increase in the average number of customers impacted by a PSPS event.
- Humboldt and Mendocino Counties experiencing a 69% to 82% increase in the average number of customers impacted by a PSPS event.
- Amador, Calaveras, Monterey, Nevada, Plumas, and Tuolumne Counties experiencing a 20%-36% increase in the average number of customers impacted by a PSPS event.