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Pacific Power lays out detailed plan for power shutoffs

Our Northern California neighbors are having their power shut off by PG&E — are we in danger of the same fate in Southern Oregon? — Michelle A., Medford.

There’s nothing quite like seeing your neighbors plunged into darkness and disconnect from everyday amenities to turn your thoughts to your own neighborhood, is there? Thankfully, this is a question the Mail Tribune and others in Jackson County have already posed to Pacific Power, which serves our region.

This past summer, Jackson and Josephine county officials met with the power company to ask about its plans to mitigate high risk of utility-cause wildfire. Christina Kruger, regional business manager for the company, listed the criteria.

Drought conditions, high winds and danger of trees and other debris falling onto power lines are among the circumstances that would cause Pacific Power to shut off electricity as a precaution, Kruger said.

She said the company would be “as surgical as possible” when it come to determining the areas to shut off power.

Pacific Power has also discussed its historical review of its own data and determined only one event in the past decade would have triggered a shutoff. That shutoff would have lasted an hour, according to Pacific Power.

Kruger also said that Pacific Power would commit to staging crews in areas that would be impacted by a shutoff, not only to ensure they can get the lines re-energized quickly, but also to provide tents with air conditioning, fresh water and other amenities — things many in California are going without as fires rage.

Pacific Power said it is working closely with other organizations and agencies, including the Oregon Department of Forestry, to keep plans updated and to be responsive to potentially dangerous extreme weather conditions.

The company has also said it is clearing trees and vegetation from around power poles, as well as conducting more inspections along its lines.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Since You Asked is a column giving readers answers to their burning questions, big or small.