Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Chelan PUD expands wildfire prevention plan, introduces county-wide power shutoff strategy


WENATCHEE — In an effort to prevent wildfires and increase fire resilience, Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) announced the expansion of its comprehensive wildfire mitigation plan, which now includes a county-wide strategy for proactively turning off power during extreme weather events.

The expanded plan, called fire safety outage management, is a measure of last resort and will be implemented in fire-prone areas throughout Chelan County. This move comes after the successful pilot of a similar plan in 2021, which covered about 3,000 customers in the Lake Wenatchee/Plain area.

Chelan PUD's wildfire mitigation plan also includes vegetation management, fire hardening of transmission structures, and equipment upgrades in high-risk areas. The utility has been using fire risk assessments to guide these place-based measures.

Throughout the summer, Chelan PUD will closely monitor weather forecasts, including wind gusts, humidity, fuel moisture, and potential fire behavior. If a fire safety outage becomes necessary, the utility will attempt to notify customers 48 hours in advance through various channels, including email, phone messages, media, and partner organizations.

General Manager Kirk Hudson emphasized the importance of a robust wildfire mitigation plan, stating, "It's prudent that we put a robust wildfire mitigation plan in place to protect our communities from weather events, forest conditions and legal risks."

Chelan PUD encourages customers to prepare for potential fire safety outages by updating their contact information, signing up for emergency notifications, creating an emergency plan, and considering backup power options for critical needs. The utility also maintains an Electrical Medical Needs Registry for those who rely on electricity for medical equipment.


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