Pacific Gas & Electric has rightfully faced public backlash and financial hardship following the many wildfires their equipment started in recent years, including a day in court where the company pleaded to 84 counts of manslaughter in the Camp Fire.
Now, they are using a a new initiative in their equipment inspection that allows them to carefully oversee electrical lines with drones.
PG&E is currently conducting its enhanced System Inspections Program in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties using drones and helicopters along electric transmission lines. The program accelerates inspection cycles beyond compliance regulations to align with wildfire risk.
In 2020, the company plans to inspect more than 15,000 miles of its electric lines. That includes all lines in Tier 3 areas and one-third of all lines in Tier 2 areas. They also plan to inspect additional line miles in non-high fire-threat areas through the end of the year.
PG&E has remained a target for critics in Northern California who don’t believe the company took enough precaution to keep their equipment from starting fires, especially in the drought conditions that brought the devastating fire season of 2018. Since then, the power company has enacted multiple power shutdowns throughout the state to limit the fire risk, angering residents even further.
For a company that has seen every bit of controversy in recent years, this program is a step in the right direction to help mitigate the sparks of wildfires with their equipment. Does this mean they will stop turning off power to NorCal residents during times of elevated fire risk? Probably not, but only time will tell.