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Be prepared for power outages during wildfire season

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 12, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — High temps, hot, dry air, bright sun: this is summer. Or as many Utahns call it: wildfire season.

This summer, Rocky Mountain Power is armed with multiple defenses to prevent sparks, like enhanced safety settings, said Jona Whitesides, spokesperson.

“If anything touches the lines, it will automatically de-energize within a tenth of a second, and that is to prevent a spark,” he said. “We don't want to be the starters of a wildfire.”

If fires are getting close to power lines, RMP will also do emergency power shutoffs, said Whitesides.

“Even if that fire could be maybe a couple of miles away, that smoke starts to get closer to those lines, it can create a secondary spark,” he said.

RMP has been hardening the system throughout the Wasatch front, making power poles and lines more resilient.

“We replaced these old wooden poles with metal weathering poles, so when they're out there in the weather and the elements, they kind of look like trees in some instances, to where they're not unsightly, and they're actually taller too,” said Whitesides. “They don't obscure that view of the beautiful landscape out there.”

When RMP does have to shut the power off, it won’t be for too long, but it’s important to be prepared in case you don’t have A/C on a hot summer day, he said.

“Seal [your] doors and windows just like you would in wintertime,” said Whitesides. “You also don't want that hot air coming in in the summertime. We also want you to shut your curtains on those west and south-facing parts of your house where the sun can come in. Do you have an outage kit? If you have a medical need, do you have a backup plan? That may be a generator at home, making sure that that's being used safely outdoors, or do you have a place that you can go to if the power is shut off.”