SCE Installs New Fire-Resistant Electrical Equipment West of Desert Hot Springs

Carmela Karcher

In Northern California, the Camp Fire in 20-18 was about 154,000 acres and had 85 fatalities.

The Dixie Fire in 2021, nearly a million acres burned and killed one firefighter.

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire in 2018 caused almost 100,000 acres in damage and three deaths.

The common link between the three is they were caused by an electrical issue.

According to CAL FIRE, utility infrastructure has only been responsible for less than 10% of recorded wildfires.

But these fires caused by power lines are about half of the most destructive wildfires in state history.

Now, Southern California Edison is taking new steps to make sure these types of fires don’t happen again.

“They are replacing bare wire with covered conductor,” Edison International Senior Advisor Jeff Monford said. “Covered conductor is a really important tool for reducing the risk of wildfire. This is part of SCE’s wildfire mitigation work.”

According to SCE, covered conductor help reduce the risk of fire between 75% to 80%.

“It’s a very big number,” Monford continued. “In the event of a windy day, there’s a lot of fuel that could be on the ground. A branch of a tree or something that could be blown up into the power lines, when those are covered conductor, then there is much less chance of a spark and a greatly reduced opportunity for a fire to get started.”

Also being installed are fire-resistant power poles and cross arms along with covered conductor just north of Desert Hot Springs.

All being delivered by helicopter.

“There is an inaccessible place along the foothills of Mount San Gorgonio and it’s not reachable on paved roads,” Monford explained. “So SCE crews have used helicopters today to take personnel and materials in. What they’re going to be doing is putting up more robust power poles that will hold covered conductor, which is replacing the bare wire, and covered conductor happens to be one of the most important tools we have to reduce the risk of a wildfire.”

SCE is not alone. 

PG&E in Northern California  is also undergrounding 10,000 miles of lines in high risk areas as well as installing covered conductor and stronger power poles.

All in an effort to prevent further damage to our Golden State.

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