Avista activates fire safety mode for power lines due to wildfire risk

June 28, 2024

Avista’s fire safety response to dry summer conditions

As reported by Avista, in response to dry summer conditions and increasing wildfire danger, Avista is undertaking temporary changes to power line operations in its Washington and Idaho service areas.

These temporary changes, known as Fire Safety Mode, have been actioned for over 20 years to mitigate wildfire risks.

These operational adjustments aim to decrease the potential for wildfires when re-energizing power lines.

Normally, power lines attempt multiple re-energizing attempts to clear faults, reducing outage times.

However, in Fire Safety Mode, the line remains inactive after a fault until Avista crews confirm it is safe to restore power.

This process involves patrolling the line to ensure no contact that could ignite a fire.

While this may extend restoration times, it significantly reduces fire hazards.

Avista also utilizes a fire-weather monitoring system to adjust line sensitivity during predicted high wind conditions.

Customers are notified of any changes through the contact information associated with their Avista accounts.

Wildfire Resiliency Plan

This approach is part of Avista’s comprehensive Wildfire Resiliency Plan, which was formalized in 2020.

The plan builds on longstanding prevention and response strategies to enhance fire safety measures.

The goal is to prevent wildfires and respond efficiently when they occur.

A new strategy introduced this year includes the implementation of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).

In extreme weather conditions, such as low humidity and strong winds, Avista may proactively turn off power in specific locations to protect public safety.

This preemptive measure is intended to reduce the risk of power lines contributing to wildfire ignition.

Customer preparation and communication

Avista advises customers to ensure their contact information is up to date for receiving outage notifications.

Customers can update their information by visiting myavista.com or calling customer service.

Those with medical devices reliant on electricity should notify Avista to receive additional notifications during extended outages.

Additionally, customers are encouraged to prepare for potential outages by assembling emergency supplies, including flashlights, portable chargers, and a few days’ supply of shelf-stable food and water for all household members and pets.

More detailed preparation guidelines are available at myavista.com/outages.

Avista will restore the distribution system to normal operations as soon as weather conditions improve and fire risks decrease.

The company acknowledges and appreciates the patience and understanding of its customers during these precautionary measures.

Avista’s ongoing commitment to safety

Avista’s Fire Safety Mode and the Wildfire Resiliency Plan reflect the company’s ongoing commitment to mitigating wildfire risks in its service areas.

By taking proactive steps, such as line patrolling and implementing PSPS, Avista aims to protect both public safety and the integrity of its power infrastructure.

The emphasis on customer communication and preparedness further supports this goal, ensuring that residents are well-informed and ready for potential outages during high-risk periods.

Avista’s strategies demonstrate a dedication to reducing wildfire hazards while maintaining reliable power service to its customers.

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