Calling for permanent wildfire-protection solutions

Local representatives must demand that PG&E’s efforts aren’t just Band-Aids

The author, a longtime Forest Ranch resident, is an environmentalist and author.

Our longtime supplier of electricity in Northern California, PG&E, recently has introduced a proposal in which the company’s operatives will cut off the power supply in any location any time they see a risk for fire.

Since PG&E has admitted liability for a number of disastrous fires, including the Camp Fire, this would seem to be a logical step to reduce the possibility of starting such conflagrations. The other proposal advanced by PG&E is to take out all trees that might be a hazard to their power lines.

Both of these options pose numerous problems that require action by our local representatives.

My home is in Forest Ranch, where for many decades we have lived among the trees and enjoyed the beauty and coolness of the evergreen forest. We have a Fire Safe Council, a well-run fire department near our grocery store, and a Cal Fire station 5 miles up Highway 32. The big Ponderosa pine trees in my neighborhood have stood for 150 to 200 years and don’t have any fire scars, which means they’ve never been subjected to a major fire in all those years.

We must take a more reasoned approach to the fire dangers in our region. Modern developments have placed their power lines underground. Even back in the 1980s, when I bought a Forest Ranch home in Forest Knolls, a 100-acre subdivision, our power lines were underground.

If PG&E wants a permanent solution to our current problems, the company must direct its resources differently. Instead of paying large sums to tree cutters, it should use that money to begin burying lines. If it’s too expensive, partner with our California government to do the job right.

We’re weary of Band-Aid solutions to satisfy PG&E stockholders. The power outages in Forest Ranch drive us crazy. They disrupt our water systems and cause our food to spoil; we can’t cook or take showers. Necessary medical equipment cannot be used. Telephone service is often disrupted, so the elderly can’t call in emergencies. Citizens are endangered.

It’s time for government to enter the picture and find real solutions.