Record wildfire threats mean California must pick when and where to fight, utilities, analysts, CalFire agree

Herman K. Trabish | Utility Dive Link to article

Winds, drought, heat and land uses take utility-critical questions of wildfire fight beyond utilities

In 2020, California had over 9,900 wildfires, which burned a record 4.25 million acres and killed 33 people, according to the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). It is time for California to rethink its approach to wildfires, stakeholders said.

Both wildfires and utility-owned power lines run throughout California’s federally-, state- and privately-held forest lands. Regulated utilities have caused less than 10% of California’s wildfires, according to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), but a California constitutional provision makes utilities financially liable if their equipment is involved in, without causing, a fire’s ignition.

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