Responsibility of power utilities for wildfires – blame or help them?

29 Gru 2020

Did you know there are 597 electric companies in the USA that supply electricity to wherever it is needed? That is no surprise as the US is a large country but did you also know there are 200 thousand miles of high-voltage transmission lines installed throughout our country and 5.5 million local lines? The majority of them were installed above the ground.

There is no doubt that electricity is an essential part of our lives and it has to be delivered to our homes, factories, offices, etc. Unfortunately, power lines pose a certain threat, especially if they are in poor technical condition… Pacific Gas & Electric learned about it the hard way as they were accused of causing the catastrophic fires that wreaked havoc in California in 2017 and 2018. Strong winds and poor technical condition of electric poles may snap power lines and create sparks. Such sparks, in turn, may cause large wildfires and indescribable tragedies.

Should, therefore, electric companies actively take part in fire prevention monitoring? Of course. Power lines run through areas with a high risk of wildfires and this is where fire and smoke detectors could be installed. There is no need to build specialist watchtowers – you can install the detectors on top of already existing poles.

Such detectors will provide information about a possible wildfire. Moreover, thanks to them the electric company will know precisely which power line was broken. Are these benefits not enough to encourage electric companies to invest in fire prevention monitoring?