Wildfire Response

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Taking “Wild” Out of Wildfire: Wildfire System Management
Speakers: Willie Thomas, Fire Risk Mitigation Program Manager, San Diego Gas & Electric Company
Greg Bailly, Operations Manager, NorthWestern Energy
This session will discuss the strategies SDG&E utilizes in managing a system before, during and after a wildfire. The presentation will begin with SDG&E giving some brief history then covering their “Public Safety Power Shut off” Policy (PSPS). It will be followed by a panel discussion covering details on a utilities decision to shut off power to prevent an ignition, with discussion on why a utility, such as NorthWestern Energy, would keep lines energized as long as possible and safe to do so, before ignition or during a wildfire. This will be followed by a system hardening discussion, reviewing techniques and tools available to utilities to minimize the potential for starting a fire as well as minimizing the potential for damage should the fire burn through a line. The format for the session will be a short presentation and panel discussion on PSPS, followed by a short presentation and panel discussion on system hardening.

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Transmission – Evolving Operations (Vegetation Management + Transmission Maintenance)
Speakers: Ryan Monk, Trades Training Instructor, BC Hydro
Greg Denton, Project Manager, Quantum Spatial Inc.
This exciting session will look at two traditional transmission challenges and how they evolved with technology and merging of work methods. First, strategic vegetation management using technology, and second, utilizing helicopters and existing work methods to complete Transmission Maintenance without compromising safety or system resilience.

Quantum Spatial will present their LiDAR based vegetation program. The established vegetation program allows the utility to be strategic and targeted with its vegetation management resources. This is a fundamental departure from the traditional cyclical and reactive trimming to data driven strategic decisions. BCH will present on its evolving Helicopter Operations. Specifically merging Barehand and helicopter procedures to carry out work without compromising safety or the reliability of the grid.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Wildfires Management Keynote Panel
Facilitator: Tara Fraser, Fire Marshal, BC Hydro
Panelists: Rob Schweitzer, Acting Director, BC Wildfire
Bruce Blackwell, Principal, B.A. Blackwell & Associates
Ann Walker, Owner, Ann Walker Consulting
Climate change has brought hotter, dryer summers to western North America. Last not only did we endure another summer of fierce wildfires in California and other western states, British Columbia lost nearly 3.21 million acres to wildfires, making 2018 the highest year for area burned on record.

Our cross-section of wildfire management leadership will provide you perspectives from leaders in essential services and fire agencies, forestry services, and the energy industry. Learn the full story of how agencies and utility teams are acting to prevent wildfires, mitigating the damage from these wildfires, and ultimately responding to the needs to restore of gas and electricity service to customers. Learn what your industry or service organization must know to be successful in a changing environment.

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Are You Ready? Emergency/Rescue Preparedness
Speakers: Jay Jewess, Director, Business Continuity & Emergency Management, Portland General Electric
Tarek Morgan, Field Manager, BC Hydro
Jack Carmichael, Incident Management Team Lead, BC Hydro
Mike Barnett, Corporate Security, Dominion Energy
Utility Workers are a special breed. Whereas most people tend to run away from fires, explosions, or natural disasters, Utility Workers run towards disasters, intent on getting the lights back on. Utilities need to have Emergency & Rescue plans in place to affect a response that will protect workers while they are responding to an emergency.

Portland General Electric will share resilience efforts, integrating learnings from the Japan and Cascadia earthquakes. Dominion Energy will share what they have done to prepare for active shooter situations, taking learnings from the Columbine and other mass shootings. And BC Hydro will discuss substation fire and SF6 response plans and how it will protect utility workers, first responders, and the public.

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Wildfire Behavior and Survival, Basic Strategies for Utility Personnel
Speakers: Jeff Millar, Senior Public Safety Specialist, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Tara Laycock, Emergency Preparedness Manager, BC Hydro
This session will cover the fundamental factors that influence wildland fire behavior and their implications for utility workers. Special attention will be given to the key environmental indicators that can be used to monitor and predict wildfire behavior along with tactics to survive a potential fire entrapment. Examples of extreme fire behavior that have impacted utility providers will also be presented which includes firenado, described as “a rotating column of fire induced by intense rising heat and turbulent winds. Intense fire whirls can be violent and cause damage similar to tornadoes.