November 30, 2021 – This summer, PG&E customers in the Foothills were experiencing frequent power outages lasting longer than normal. The cause fast a new safety feature called “fast trip,” which deenergized complete circuits in Tier 2 and Tier 3 High Fire-Threat District (HFTD) areas if a fault was detected. Now, in an email to customers, the utility corporation announced the restoration of the circuits to pre-Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS.)
PG&E stated: “While these adjustments make our electric system safer, they have also resulted in more frequent, longer-duration outages for you and your community. We want you to know that we have taken swift and comprehensive action to reduce the outages our customers were experiencing. And now, given the recent rainfall, we have been restoring circuits back to their normal, pre-EPSS settings, which should result in fewer power outages. We will continue to monitor weather and fuel conditions to determine the proper settings. When high wildfire risk returns, the circuits may be adjusted to be more sensitive again. However, our ongoing efforts will continue to reduce the size, length and frequency of outages, without compromising safety. We know how disruptive it is to be without power, and while we have improved, we will continue to make updates.
As of Oct. 20, when compared to the prior three-year average, we have seen a decrease of approximately 50% in reportable ignitions and approximately 80% in ignitions on EPSS circuits.“
Designed to be used in late summer and fall to prevent new fire starts due to power lines or equipment failure, the feature required crews to inspect the entire power line circuit and perform any necessary repairs before power was restored. Low-flying helicopters were also used to inspect the power lines before power was restored.