skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Educators preserve, shape future with 'ALT NEW COLLEGE'; NY appeals court denies delay for Trump civil fraud trial; Michigan coalition gets cash influx to improve childcare.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

A House Committee begins its first hearing in the Biden impeachment inquiry, members of Congress talk about the looming budget deadline and energy officials testify about the Maui wildfires.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

A small fire department in rural Indiana is determined not to fail new moms and babies, the growing election denial movement has caused voting districts to change procedures and autumn promises spectacular scenery along America's rural byways.

Could Burying Power Save More Homes, Lives from Wildfires?

play audio
Play

Monday, July 25, 2022   

Western states under extreme drought made worse by climate change are a giant tinderbox - and one expert says it's time to minimize possible fire sources by burying power lines.

Above-ground transmission lines have been mostly an eyesore, but as climate change has worsened the risk and devastation from wildfires, Engineering Consultant with Resilient Analytics Paul Chinowsky said power lines should never be the possible source.

He said vegetation or heavy winds can cause lines to touch each other and create a spark.

"You've got equipment that really wasn't designed to handle the extreme temperatures and environmental conditions we have today," said Chinowsky.

Chinosky said the major hurdle is cost - estimated at $4 million or more for each mile of "undergrounding."

California's Pacific Gas & Electric utility recently agreed to pay more than $55 million dollars to avoid criminal prosecution for that state's 2021 Dixie wildfire sparked by aging power lines.

PG&E also has announced a multibillion-dollar effort to bury 10,000 miles of power lines.

Chinowsky said he believes the adversarial relationship that sometimes develops between local governments and their utility company needs to change. He said more cooperation is necessary to ease what would likely be higher rates for customers.

"Because this change is going to save homes," said Chinowsky. "It's going to save property. If we don't change it, we're never going to get it done and we're just going to keep reliving these very destructive wildfires."

Wildfires are now more frequent and intense and fire seasons last longer. That has led some building homes or structures near or within Western forests to use fire-resistant materials.

But Chinosky said the "new normal" is here to stay, and reducing risk is key.

"We'll always have some risk," said Chinowsky. "You can't eliminate all risk. You're not going to eliminate lightning strikes. But if we can eliminate risks that we have control over, it's going to save a lot of people a lot of unhappy times."

New Mexico's recent fire - the largest in the state's history - was not caused by above-ground power lines, but rather ignited by U.S. Forest Service workers using drip torches during a prescribed burn to thin dense woodlands.




get more stories like this via email
more stories
Michigan is among 20 states to receive a multiyear grant from the Pritzker Children's Initiative. (SneakyPeakPoints/peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

The coalition known as "Think Babies Michigan" has secured more than $36 million in funding to offer grants to child-care providers for infants and to…


Social Issues

play sound

Nearly 100 school board elections are coming up in Minnesota this fall, with some gaining attention because of the candidates who are running…

Social Issues

play sound

The so-called conservative "hostile takeover" of a small, progressive liberal arts college in Florida is seeing some resistance from former students …


Only 546 of the tenants in the the 5,563 eviction cases filed in Nebraska in the first half of 2023 were represented by legal counsel. (tab62/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

High rent prices are draining the budgets of many Nebraska renters, who are paying between 30% and 50% of their income on rent. In some parts of the …

Social Issues

play sound

As the federal government nears a shutdown over a budget impasse in Congress, Wisconsin offices that help low-income individuals worry they'll have …

Lewiston, Idaho, sits on the Snake River at the border with Washington. (Guy Sagi/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Indigenous leaders are traveling through the Northwest to highlight the plight of dwindling fish populations in the region. The All Our Relations …

Social Issues

play sound

Washington performs well in a new report scoring states' long-term care systems. The Evergreen State ranked second in AARP's Long-Term Services and …

Social Issues

play sound

A lack of housing options, mental-health challenges and a lack of connections and support have combined to drive an uptick in the number of foster …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021