It's a technique that even a few years ago was not really considered.

Several utilities in WA now have what's called a PSPS

According to information from The Center Square, if wildfire season severely threatens the power grid in WA, some utilities could, as a last resort, employ what's called a Public Safety Power Shutoff.

The PSPS would only be used in dire emergencies, or when a utility believes doing so would lessen the chance of downed lines triggering more fires. Puget Sound Energy, or PSE, has such a policy, but it's only viewed as a last resort. A power shutoff could occur if the company believes that continuing to supply power could trigger fires.

Several other areas of the state have been identified as potential locations for  PSPS zones. They include the I-90 corridor between Roslyn and Ellensburg, and along Highway 97.

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According to The Center Square:

"Pacific Power, which serves parts of central and southeast Washington, also has a PSPS program, while Avista just recently unveiled its own plan. Avista serves parts of eastern Washington.

In 2023, the state Legislature enacted House Bill 1032, which requires investor-owned and publicly-owned electrical companies to submit wildfire mitigation plans starting this year. The plans must be updated every three years onward."

PSE says its plan mandates a minimum two-day notification to customers if a PSPS is going into effect.  Energy officials say these shutoffs could help utilities avoid lawsuits where plaintiffs sued energy companies over downed lines that sparked fires, such as the massive Malden Fire in Whitman County in 2020.

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