January 7, 2020 Wildfire Prevention-Edison

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Open Board of Directors Meeting

Norton Regional Event Center
1601 E. Third St., Suite 138
San Bernardino, CA 92408



Present:   Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Ann Bryan, Mike Burrows, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Pam Langford, Bill Lemann, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Keven Porter, Catherine Pritchett, Larry Pyle, Brian Reider, Michael Rivera, Kristine Scott, Pete Van Helden, Steve von Rajcs and Frank Zabaleta.

Guests:  Dan Little and Frank Reyes.

Announcements: 1) The Eastgate project was cleared by the FAA on December 23 and the ground lease with Hillwood at a special SBIA public meeting on December 30, 2020.  Appreciation was expressed to Inland Action by SBIA and Hillwood for supporting this project.  2)  Doug Hedrick, General Manager, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water district has retired. Heather Dyer will serve as his replacement.  3)  Please sign up for the Washington, D.C. trip as soon as possible.  4)  Carole Beswick and Ray Wolfe will receive awards from IEEP at their annual dinner on Thursday, January 16.  5) Committees were reminded that at the January 28 meeting written issue papers are due, issues will be presented, and the selection of priority issues will be decided.

M/S/P: Minutes from December 18, 2019.

Ken Coate introduced Chris Abel, Principal Manager of Government Relations, Southern California Edison (SCE).

Changes to California’s climate means that the traditional notion of a fire “season” no longer exists.  California’s wildfire problem is serious and worsening. Ten of the most destructive wildfires have happened since 2015, and almost a quarter of SCE’s service area is located in high fire risk areas.

SCE stated they are responding to the greatest societal challenge of our time—climate change and its impacts, including wildfires.  Clean energy and wildfire prevention and response go hand-in-hand.  SCE is creating a future where carbon-free resources power the economy.  Executing their long-term vision cannot happen without adapting business and helping communities prepare for the impacts of climate change.  Last year in California, almost two million acres burned and close to 100 lives were lost due to catastrophic wildfires exacerbated by climate change.

SCE crews have completed detailed ground-based inspections of 400,000-plus distribution and transmission structures in high fire risk areas in less than five months.  They deploy helicopters and drones equipped with infrared, ultraviolet, LiDAR and HD image scanning to perform aerial inspections of our facilities (poles, switches, circuits, relays, etc.).  Infrared, Corona scanning and high definition (HD) imagery are also utilized.

SCE is expanding the application of LiDAR technology, an advanced laser surveying method, to enhance vegetation management in remote areas of our service territory. This technology allows them to more precisely and efficiently assess vegetation near power lines in difficult-to-access areas, further reducing fire risk. The expansion should enable them to more closely monitor hundreds of square miles of rugged high fire risk areas.

High-Tech Cameras help monitor potential wildfires in real time.  By 2020, SCE will install up to 160 cameras, providing 90% coverage of high fire risk areas.  These cameras will stream images on UC San Diego’s wildfire camera network.  SCE partners with UC San Diego and the University of Nevada, Reno to deploy all of the cameras in high fire risk areas.  The cameras are able to pan, tilt, zoom and perform 360-degree sweeps approximately every minute with 12 high-definition frames per sweep.  SCE’s Fire Management organization and public agencies can access the cameras around the clock to monitor wildfire activity. Members of the public can see the cameras in action on the web at www.alertwildfire.org.  Camera locations include: LA County near Malibu, Ventura County near Thousand Oaks, Riverside County near Corona and San Bernardino County near Lake Arrowhead.

Weather Stations provide real-time weather forecasting in high fire risk areas.  SCE will install 850 weather stations by the end of 2020 as part of their wildfire mitigation program.  New state-of-the-art software with high-resolution weather model, forecasts weather conditions down to less than two miles.  They are being installed on utility poles and have various sensors that provide real-time weather data, including wind speed and wind gust, temperature, humidity and solar data every 10 minutes.

Monitoring is a 24/7 job.  SCE continually looks at technology that will better prepare them more effectively to respond to anything that can take place.  SCE meteorologists and the geographic information system specialists who work with them on mapping circuits and equipment are directly integrated into the planning for and response to significant events.

Covered conductors are insulated wires that help reduce wildfire risk.  SCE will be installing 600 circuit miles of the insulated wire by year end.  The new wire is covered with electrical insulation material. If foreign debris such as tree branches were to fall on top of the new wires, the insulation around it will help prevent potential sparks.  The insulation will also prevent sparks if the covered wire were to fall to the ground.

SCE now inspects about 900,000 trees across their service area every year to determine if they pose a hazard by making contact with power lines.  About 400,000 trees are in high fire risk areas identified by the California Public Utilities Commission. In these high fire risk areas, the work includes creating a minimum 12-foot clearance at the time of trim between trees and power lines to prevent vegetation from coming into contact with electrical equipment and potentially sparking a blaze.   In addition, tall trees up to 200 feet from the wires will be assessed and may be removed if they demonstrate a high risk of falling into the lines or have vegetation like palm fronds that high winds could carry into power equipment. The plan is to remove an additional 7,500 which pose a fall-in or blow-in risk to SCE electrical facilities in high risk areas.  Managing tree growth and other vegetation will help make communities safer.

Undergrounding power lines continues to be evaluated in targeted high fire risk areas.  Undergrounding is not feasible in all areas, is expensive ($3M per mile vs. $450K), and creates inspection challenges.

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is used to de-energizing power lines to prevent ignitions is used during elevated fire conditions.  PSPS is an operational practice in which SCE pre-emptively turns off power during high fire risk weather conditions to enhance public safety.  The shutoffs primarily impact circuits in high fire risk areas.  In rare instances, other circuits in non-high fire risk areas may be impacted if transmission lines are de-energized.  Actual frequency of PSPS events depend on various weather and environmental factors.  Decisions are made with most accurate assessment of real-time information and situational awareness data.

SCE is spreading the information by holding more than 30 community meetings held in high fire risk areas.  These meetings included 120 cities, counties and tribal governments.  They participate in Statewide advertising campaigns educating customers about preparing for power shutoffs.  Letters communicating potential power shutoffs planned for all customers in service territory.  Last year, SCE launched a community outreach effort aimed at raising awareness about what the company is doing to address wildfire risk, particularly around PSPS.   Their goal is to keep our communities and customers informed, help them be better prepared for emergencies and directing them to resources where they can receive aid.

Southern California Edison is committed to providing timely notification to impacted customers, local governments, public safety agencies and the California State Warning Center before, during and after a de-energization event.

We all have a role in resiliency and preparedness.  During the first few hours or days following a disaster, essential services may not be available. People must be ready to act on their own.

A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned 8:28 a.m.