Power Lines and Wildland Fire

In 2009, California electrical utilities PG&E, SCE and SDG&E proposed creating a formal mechanism through which they could recover liability losses from wildland fires from ratepayers regardless of whether or not they were responsible for starting the fires. MGRA and other parties opposed this proposal, noting that it creates a moral hazard by reducing incentive for safe operation.

Presentation to the International Conference on Engineering Failure Analysis (ICEFA12), The Hague, Netherlands, July 1-4, 2012 PowerPoint Presentation


This submission describes current academic work as well as activities before the California Public Utilities Commission on powerlines and wildland fire.  Five of the eleven “Black Saturday” fires under investigation by the Royal Bushfires Commission were reportedly due to power line ignitions.



The analysis for MGRA continues, with powerline contributions from the October 2007 fires, an anomalously high number of power line fires in San Diego County, implications of another 230 kV fire in 2007, and some inconsistent SDG&E wind calculations.

Testimony to the California Public Utilities Commission Regarding the Sunrise Powerlink Project

VIEW PDF - Proposed Changes

The 2008-2011 rulemaking instituted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is intended to make changes to current California regulations in order to reduce the likelihood of power line fire ignitions in hazard areas. Several rules were introduced by MGRA including: