Spokane-based energy company Avista Corp. is taking additional steps to improve its ability to reduce the risk of wildfires in areas the company serves.
The company has designed what it’s calling a Wildfire Resiliency Plan, a document crafted to implement better fire defense strategies and operating practices.
According to a press release issued June 29, some of the company’s staff has spent the last year developing a 10-year plan through a series of in-house workshops, industry research, and interaction with local and state fire agencies.
“While power line infrastructure is but one of numerous potential causes for wildfires, we’re committed to reducing risks by doing our part and helping others do theirs,” Dennis Vermillion, Avista’s CEO and president, says in the release.
Specific recommendations include emergency and operational response, effective grid management, situational response, vegetation management, and worker and public safety improvements. Future emergency response preparedness will involve simulations and training with fire professionals in preparation of wildfires.
In improving its service grid in fire-prone areas, Avista plans to replace or strengthen infrastructure with steel and fiberglass cross-arms to reduce the likelihood of spark-ignition sources.
The plan will prioritize fire risk reduction in more densely populated areas.
Avista’s 550 electric line workers will be trained to work with fire responders, the company says, and vegetation management will include the use of aerial surveys to identify tree and vegetation encroachments against power sources and equipment.
Avista provides energy services and electricity to 393,000 customers and natural gas to 361,000 customers.
The publicly-traded company has a service territory that covers 30,000 square miles with a total population of 1.7 million in Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and parts of southern and eastern Oregon.
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