West Coast Utility Commissions - Wildfire Dialogue



 

The Public Utility Commissions from Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, and British Columbia convened an all-day public workshop regarding wildfire risk. The workshop featured participants and experts who shared their perspectives and evolving approaches to address rapidly changing wildfire risk aggravated by climate change and other factors. The dialogue focused on impacts to energy utilities, customers, and communities, as well as lessons learned by western states to help manage and mitigate wildfire risk.

Agenda

When: Friday, August 16, 2019, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Where: Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Blvd., Portland, OR 97232

Cost: Free; open to the public and press

Press Release: West Coast Utility Commissions Discuss Changing Wildfire Risk and Mitigation Efforts

View the Recorded Panel Discussions:

View the Presentations:  

  Panel Topics for Dialogue:

  • Tracking the Changing Risk: What is the state-of-the-art fire risk mapping currently available and how fast is it adapting to changing climate?
  • Making Risk-Based Changes to the System: How can utilities effectively prioritize risk mitigation efforts, and what issues arise or barriers develop for utilities in that 'prioritization?'
  • Managing the Financial Risks: What are the financial tools available to utilities to mitigate ratepayer risk and keep the cost of capital affordable? Are these tools robust enough for the scale of possible losses?
  • Expanding Public Safety Coordination: What factors should be considered to ensure de-energization does not increase public safety risk now that transportation, communications, and other essential services are more reliant on electricity?

Context:

Climate change, among other factors, is intensifying the severity and frequency of weather events. In the West, we are experiencing dramatic changes in wildfire intensity and severity, which has been exacerbated by increased temperatures, drought, and other environmental changes. Substantial efforts are being undertaken to respond to wildfire risk, including: increasing grid resiliency through the hardening of infrastructure, increasing coordination efforts, and the deployment of new technologies to mitigate wildfire risks and impacts. Similarly, jurisdictions continue to increase adaptation efforts through the assessment of and planning for system vulnerabilities.

Delivering safe, reliable, and reasonably affordable electricity on a universal basis requires new, holistic approaches to these evolving risks. Solutions are wide-ranging - including physical upgrades to the electricity system, changes to operational practices, new monitoring technology, better and more detailed understanding of system inter-dependencies, and financial instruments.

The changes in wildfire risk are only just beginning and will be present for decades to come, requiring constant evolution of best practices. Delivering on our missions as public utility regulators - to ensure safe, reliable electricity at just and reasonable rates - requires us to engage fully in this adaptation.

This is not a decision-making meeting for the participating Commissions.


 


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