Some power companies in the West have turned to “power shutoffs” in an effort to prevent and contain wildfires. High winds can damage transmission lines which can spark nearby dry vegetation.
Rocky Mountain Power is the largest energy company in Utah. Two years ago, it introduced the option for the shutoffs for when wildfire risk is high. But the “last resort” option hasn’t been exercised since it was established, according to David Eskelsen, a spokesperson with the company.
“Our expectations this year is we hope that these kinds of measures are not necessary, but we know that the best option for the company and for our customers is to be prepared,” Eskelsen said.
He said the company has taken other wildfire safety precautions for longer than the shutoff program has been around, like turning off specific transmission lines in extreme weather events. However, worsening drought and fire seasons in the state prompted the company to add this precautionary measure.