The historic Labor Day fires that spanned Oregon and Washington one year ago and the ongoing fires this summer are a reminder that the region is experiencing longer and more severe wildfire seasons. The priority pole replacement work at Taylor Lake demonstrates the Bonneville Power Administration’s proactive approach to wildfire mitigation and safe management of the transmission grid.
The pole replacement job, completed by field crews from The Dalles, Chehalis, Ross and Covington districts in May, preemptively removed the risk of structural failure and fire hazards before the onset of this year’s wildfire season. The work also prevented the need for last-minute emergency repairs, which create environmental and cultural concerns, and unscheduled outages.
“BPA proactively stepped up to keep the lights on and continue our mission of reliably and safely delivering power to our customers,” said Scott Williams, construction planning lead and lineman foreman III for The Dalles District. “A big thank you goes out to Transmission Line Maintenance support and the field crews for their hard work.”
In addition to removing immediate risks of wildfire hazards, BPA considers the long-term outlook with its asset management projects by incorporating innovation. For the Taylor Lake project, field crews built all five new structures using light-duty steel poles, alternatives to wood poles that offer better resistance to fire damage and lessen the probability of an unplanned outage that could affect communities spanning beyond The Dalles. Moreover, the light-duty steel extends the transmission structures’ lifespans and reduces maintenance work for BPA.
Transmission Services released BPA’s original Wildfire Mitigation Plan in 2020. The plan is continuously evolving with new methods and safety measures. In June, Transmission Services updated the plan with an added public safety power shutoff procedure designed to further protect homes, businesses and property from the devastating effects of wildfires. Read the Wildfire Mitigation Plan to learn more about BPA’s ongoing efforts.
View this map to stay aware of wildfire activity near you.