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Reality of Year-Round Fire Season is ‘New Normal’ Facing California State Leaders

SCE continues to be at the table as ongoing measures and new technology help reduce the risk of wildfires.
By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom

Q&A: CEO Pedro Pizarro Addresses California’s Wildfire Risk
Spanish: 
Preguntas y respuestas

Wildfire Mitigation Fact Sheet (Spanish)
'New Normal' Fact Sheet (Spanish)

A summer hike in the Angeles National Forest just 10 years ago would have been among a dense canopy of dark green trees. Today, that same visit will likely include brown, dead or dying trees, or swaths of emptiness because of the increasing number of wildfires due to factors that include climate change.

California’s wildfire season is now year-round and many, including Gov. Jerry Brown, are calling it the “new normal.”

It’s a statewide issue that will require statewide solutions and the development of a new regulatory and legislative framework, and utilities, including Southern California Edison, are at the table as part of that ongoing solution.  

Q&A: Addressing California’s Wildfire Risk
 

We must be nimble and acknowledge that the current structure is unsustainable and a new approach is needed to mitigate risk, protect citizens, customers and businesses, and to align public policy to current and future realities.

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Pedro Pizarro 

“Fire season is all-year round and is now our ‘new normal,’” said Pedro Pizarro, Edison International president and CEO. “SCE is part of the discussions working on solutions that will allow California to change the way we all think about, plan and respond to wildfires.

“We must be nimble and acknowledge that the current structure is unsustainable and a new approach is needed to mitigate risk, protect citizens, customers and businesses, and to align public policy to current and future realities,” he said.

Last year, California experienced a number of devastating wildfires, including many in Southern California. About a quarter of SCE’s 50,000-square-mile service territory in Central, Coastal and Southern California is considered to be in areas with a high risk for fires.

The utility continues to take steps to help reduce the risk of wildfires, including an aggressive vegetation management program and robust construction standards.

SCE is also partnering with local agencies in their efforts to evaluate various technologies to help with fire safety throughout Southern California.

Some of these technologies include drones to help monitor high fire risk areas, weather stations and real-time cameras to monitor areas with a higher risk for wildfires.

When the National Weather Service declares red flag warnings, part of SCE’s response may include not automatically re-energizing the power lines that go offline in high fire risk areas. Those lines are not reenergized until they are fully inspected.

“There must be a sharing of the increasing risk of climate change impacts across society,” said Pizarro.

SCE has a fire management team that works closely with local fire agencies during wildfires and coordinates on response plans. The utility also partners with and funds nonprofits that work on various fire mitigation efforts, such as the California Conservation Corps.

The conservation corps, which recently received an Edison International grant of $100,000, helps reduce fuel for fires by removing dead or dying trees in forests throughout the state. Volunteers also help clear various trails as part of their efforts to reduce the risk of wildfires.

“We will continue to partner on solutions that will make California more resilient against the impacts of natural disasters and climate change,” said Pizarro. “We support state leaders as they seek to solve the statewide problem and respond to California’s ‘new normal.’”

For more information: Q&A: CEO Pedro Pizarro Addresses California’s Wildfire Risk

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