Wildfires are a regular threat to our built and natural environments. Climate change is accelerating that risk and our remote, forested islands are vulnerable. OPALCO follows industry best practices for wildfire prevention including an aggressive vegetation clearing program along powerlines and modification of powerline settings during fire season to reduce risk.
- OPALCO trims and/or removes trees and other vegetation under or near power lines.
- OPALCO follows national standards for right-of-way clearing on the lines on both sides of the pole line as follows: 10′ for underground distribution lines, 25′ for overhead distribution lines, and 50’ for transmission lines.
- More than 87% of OPALCO’s system is underground.
- If a tree is outside of ROW but is dangerously close to a power line, OPALCO will make every effort to work with the property owner and get permission to remove the tree that is deemed a potential hazard to the electrical system.
- Wildfire season is a critical problem. West Coast utilities have faced serious risk from uncontrolled wildfires. OPALCO is doing its part to prevent wildfires.
- During wildfire season, OPALCO changes the setting on the power lines to limit the automated function of the circuit reclosure when there is a fault on the system. This ensures that crew must first inspect the area for fire safety before restoring power to the line. This may result in more short outages but makes increases safety and reduces fire risk when conditions are hot and dry.
- Everyone needs to do their part to prevent wildfires. Review OPALCO’s safety tips, check with your fire department, collaborate with your neighborhood and make sure your property is prepared to prevent the worst. Encourage neighbors and other organizations to do the same.
- Seattle Times Article about our region: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/when-power-lines-cause-wildfires-washington-state-doesnt-hold-utilities-accountable/
- WA DNR Fire Wise Program
- Wildfire Prevention
- RCW 64.12.035: Cutting or removing vegetation – Electrical utility – liability – definitions.