SAN RAFAEL, Calif.—Even though the drought emergency is over, the damage has already been done. The drought and bark beetle infestation have killed more than 100 million trees in California, and U.S. Forest Service scientists expect elevated levels of tree mortality to continue this year in some areas. That’s why Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is working with Fire Safe Councils across its service area to reduce the threat of wildfire. The company is awarding $2 million in funding to local Fire Safe Councils, including $99,000 to FIRESafe MARIN.
This year, PG&E will be funding 43 local Fire Safe Council and other 501(c)3 projects in 21 counties. Four projects are in Marin County and will specifically target combustible vegetation along evacuation routes, as identified in the 2016 Marin County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) found here: www.firesafemarin.org/cwpp. The goal of each project is to reduce roadside vegetation fuel that might threaten the safe evacuation of residents during a wildfire in specific neighborhoods of Larkspur, Mill Valley, Corte Madera and Tamalpais Valley.
“The safety of the communities we serve is the top priority for PG&E and we are committed to support local wildfire prevention efforts in Marin, This collaboration among PG&E, CAL FIRE and FIRESafe MARIN will help ensure that the communities we serve can prevent and are prepared for wildfires,” said Dave Canny, senior manager of PG&E’s North Bay division.
“FIRESafe MARIN thanks PG&E for providing funding for these four projects that will help protect our communities from the devastating effects of wildfire,” said Todd Lando, FIRESafe MARIN Coordinator.
This is the fourth consecutive year PG&E has funded local Fire Safe Council projects to help residents protect their homes, communities and the environment from wildfire. Many of the projects are focused on creating fuel breaks and emergency access to help CAL FIRE and local fire departments safely fight wildfires when they do occur.
Working to Reduce Wildfire Threat
PG&E is working hard to reduce the threat of wildfires. The company inspects all of its overhead electric lines each year, and also inspects trees along power lines in high fire-danger areas twice a year. As a result of these inspections, PG&E removed more than 236,000 dead or dying trees last year to prevent them from contacting power lines, starting wildfires or contributing to other public safety risks. This is in addition to the 1.2 million trees that PG&E works each year.
The company also created a dead tree wood clean-up program to help its customers. PG&E will manage the wood on property or haul away wood from dead trees felled by the company to protect powerlines, at no cost to the homeowner, in qualifying counties where tree mortality is high. The wood is sawn for use as lumber or chipped for use in biomass facilities to generate renewable energy.
As part of its summer fire detection patrols, PG&E will fly five planes over routes in the daytime, which is when fires are most likely to spark. Last year, PG&E detected and reported more than 140 fires, supporting a quick response to fires before they spread.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.