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Black Hills Energy underscores Wildfire Mitigation programs during Fire Prevention Month

October 26, 2023
Maui Wildfire

Wildfire mitigation in focus: Ensuring safety and reliability

In acknowledgment of Fire Prevention Month this October, Black Hills Energy is emphasizing its efforts towards wildfire mitigation.

These initiatives aim to ensure the safe and consistent delivery of energy to customers and communities throughout its service regions.

Safety and reliability: A dual commitment

“Safety and reliability go hand-in-hand and are top priorities at Black Hills Energy,” said Marne Jones, senior vice president of utilities.

“For decades, we have employed a wide variety of wildfire mitigation measures and initiatives to support the integrity of our energy delivery systems, while safeguarding our facilities and the surrounding environment.

“These efforts are part of our comprehensive approach to mitigate not only wildfire risk, but also a variety of extreme weather events, including ice storms and high winds.”

Jones elaborated on the company’s stance: “Wildfire safety is a daily focus for our operations teams.

“We use a combination of tools, practices, and programs as part of our everyday work to support our risk mitigation efforts and drive reliability for our customers and communities.

“These wildfire mitigation practices have helped our electric segment consistently maintain top quartile reliability.”

Three-layered approach to wildfire mitigation

Black Hills Energy adopts a tri-layered strategy for its wildfire risk management, encompassing:

  1. Asset Programs: Undertaking proactive equipment checks and repairs, maintaining vegetation within rights of way, executing electric power line patrols both aerially and terrestrially, and ensuring power pole inspections and replacements.
  2. Integrity Programs: Investing in the system to enhance reliability and decrease risks, subterranean electric distribution lines, and adopting construction standards that diminish wildlife interaction probabilities with facilities.
  3. Operational Response: Making risk-based choices like system redesigns, routine work actions, and equipment operations. Leveraging fire weather forecasting tools for heightened situational awareness and recognizing potential fire hazard zones.

Jones underscored the importance of community outreach: “In addition to our operational activities, we work diligently to engage our customers and communities in public safety practices and how to stay safe around overhead and underground electric lines.

“This engagement is crucial as Black Hills Energy is deeply rooted in the local communities.

“We further augment our commitment by conducting public safety training for emergency responders and organizing large-scale emergency drills, ensuring our team and collaborators are equipped to support during natural calamities or other exigencies.”

Emphasizing the significance of Fire Prevention Month, Jones stated: “As we build awareness and address wildfire risks, our team realizes the paramount importance of continually evolving and applying wildfire risk mitigation strategies, for the betterment of the environment, our customers, our staff, and our communities.”

FSJA Comment

Black Hills Energy’s emphasis on wildfire mitigation during Fire Prevention Month underscores the broader industry focus on proactively addressing the threat of wildfires.

Marne Jones’s remarks resonate with the sentiments of many utility providers and stakeholders. As wildfires become an increasing concern in many parts of the Americas, it’s encouraging to observe companies taking comprehensive approaches.

The detailed insights into Black Hills Energy’s three-layered strategy give a glimpse into the multifaceted nature of wildfire management and risk reduction.

Engaging communities, fortifying infrastructure, and promoting safety stand out as critical pillars in this endeavor.

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