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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. June 12, 2017 – Even though the drought emergency is over, the damage has already been done. The drought and bark beetle infestation have killed more than 100 million trees in California, and U.S. Forest Service scientists expect elevated levels of tree mortality to continue this year in some areas. That’s why Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is working with Fire Safe Councils across its service area to reduce the threat of wildfire. The company is awarding $2 million in funding to local Fire Safe Councils, including $95,450 to the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.
This year, PG&E will be funding 43 local Fire Safe Council and other 501(c)3 projects in 22 counties. The projects in Nevada County include chipping and hazard tree removal.
“The safety of the communities we serve is the top priority for PG&E and we are committed to support local wildfire prevention efforts in Nevada County. This collaboration among PG&E, CAL FIRE and the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County will help ensure that the communities we serve can prevent and are prepared for wildfires,” said Jacquelyn Lewis, senior manager of PG&E’s Sierra division.
“The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County thanks PG&E for providing funding for these chipping and hazard tree removal projects that will help protect our communities from the devastating effects of wildfire,” said Joanne Drummond of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.
This is the fourth consecutive year PG&E has funded local Fire Safe Council projects to help residents protect their homes, communities and the environment from wildfire. Many of the projects are focused on creating fuel breaks and emergency access to help CAL FIRE and local fire departments safely fight wildfires when they do occur.
Working to Reduce Wildfire Threat
PG&E is working hard to reduce the threat of wildfires. The company inspects all of its overhead electric lines each year, and also inspects trees along power lines in high fire-danger areas twice a year. As a result of these inspections, PG&E removed more than 236,000 dead or dying trees last year to prevent them from contacting power lines, starting wildfires or contributing to other public safety risks. This is in addition to the 1.2 million trees that PG&E works each year.
The company also created a dead tree wood clean-up program to help its customers. PG&E will manage the wood on property or haul away wood from dead trees felled by the company to protect powerlines, at no cost to the homeowner, in qualifying counties where tree mortality is high. The wood is sawn for use as lumber or chipped for use in biomass facilities to generate renewable energy.
As part of its summer fire detection patrols, PG&E will fly five planes over routes in the daytime, which is when fires are most likely to spark. Last year, PG&E detected and reported more than 140 fires, supporting a quick response to fires before they spread.