Controller Calls for DWP to Cut Risk of Power Line-Induced Wildfires

by Controller's Office on November 20, 2019
Forest fires by power lines

L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a new report assessing the wildfire risks faced by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) and urging the utility to take steps to better protect communities, ratepayers and the environment from the growing threat of catastrophic blazes. His report, “It Only Takes a Spark: Enhancing LADWP’s Wildlife Fire Prevention Strategy,” calls on the City and its power utility to boost inspections of overhead power lines and transmission equipment, eliminate maintenance backlogs on old utility poles, prioritize strategic planning to manage fire risks and expand the use of technology — including drones, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence programs — to help detect wildfire safety issues.

Wildfires have become increasingly common over the past decade, ravaging millions of acres in California’s rural and metropolitan areas. Although fires start for a number of reasons — including high winds and dry conditions — since 2015, overhead power lines have sparked six of the 10 worst fires ever recorded, burning 649,000 acres, destroying 23,500 structures and killing 108 people. These dangers are a growing concern for utilities like the DWP, which has power line infrastructure in California and two additional states. 

Galperin's full report is available at lacontroller.org/dwpwildfireprevention, along with an interactive, online resource map and data story showing recent utility-related fires, wildfire threat areas in DWP service territory and his recommendations for change.

Follow L.A. Controller Ron Galperin at @LAController on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.