Chelan PUD is expanding a program that shuts off power when wildfire danger is extremely high. 

The PUD developed one of the state's first public safety power shutoff plans (PSPS) in 2021 with a pilot program in the Lake Wenatchee/Plain area, which is the most fire prone section of the county 

PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen says the program is expanding countywide this season but will only be triggered when conditions are especially dangerous. 

"Think back to the Carlton Complex Fire of 2014 or the fires of 2015," said Hansen. "Those are events where you can remember where you were, and what the wind was doing and what it felt like outside.” 

The expansion of the power shutoff plan means the PUD will monitor certain elements this summer such as wind gusts, humidity, fuel moisture and potential fire behavior. The utility will also collaborate with area fire districts to help determine when a shutdown is called for.  

If a fire safety outage is forecasted to be necessary, Chelan PUD says it will attempt to inform customer-owners as soon as possible with a goal of doing so 48 hours in advance through email, recorded phone messages, the media,, the Everbridge notification system and through Chelan County Emergency Management. 

An outage could last up to 24 hours or more, depending on the area PUD crews need to inspect after the event, and the amount of repair that could be required to safely restore power. 

Hansen said a power shutdown would not usually affect inner city areas. 

“There will be the downtown areas that will likely be still in power, where you can find water, gas, supplies during that time," Hansen said. 

The conditions that trigger a fire safety outage will be more severe than a red flag warning. Hansen noted red flag warnings occur every summer while the safety power shutoff plan has not gone into effect in the three years of its existence.

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Gallery Credit: AJ Brewster

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