Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced this week that it would be conducting helicopter flyovers along distribution lines throughout the area through August. The flights are meant to help the company gather flight time information in an effort to make future Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) shorter.
PSPS’ are power shutoffs that occur in an effort to limit the risk of wildfires during times where the climate presents a high wildfire risk. During the Kincade Fire, PG&E issued numerous PSPS outages throughout the county, as well as a gas shutoff to areas in north and west county.
After PG&E shuts off power as part of a PSPS, all lines that have been turned off need to be inspected before they turn them back on and restore power to communities.
According to a press release, the flights “are designed to gather information to help PG&E understand the amount of time it takes to safely complete the patrol. In addition to improving overall safety, the pre-inspections help crews execute future patrols more efficiently and provide key information to better determine timeline for restoring electric service to customers.”
The helicopters will be flying low, Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. However, they may not be flying every day. Flights will leave out of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.
“With the increased wildfire threat our state faces, PG&E is enhancing and expanding our efforts to reduce wildfire risks and keep our customers and communities safe. This includes improving our Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program by making events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for our customers,” spokesperson Deanna Contreras said.
According to PG&E, areas in central and north Sonoma County (including Windsor, Healdsburg, Fitch Mountain, Geyserville and Cloverdale) will have inspections beginning this week, and areas in west county will have inspections beginning the week of July 13.