With Warming, Get Used to Blackouts to Prevent Wildfires

California Shutting Power To Avoid Fires

AP News
October 11, 2019 - 3:23 pm

(David Crane/The Orange County Register via AP)




WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists say with worsening fires and a longer burn season from climate change, California should expect more intentional power blackouts to prevent high winds from knocking down power lines.

The area of California burned by fire has increased fivefold since 1972 as temperatures increased 2.5 degrees in the past century. So some, but not all, scientists say shutting off power when high winds blow may be the best policy.

Mike Flannigan a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta in Canada, said "the new reality" is that there will be more fires.

As a result, he said power shutdowns like those by California utilities are more likely to happen to try to avoid catastrophic fires with losses of lives and property like those that plunged PG&E into bankruptcy.