Wildfire Mitigation Program

Chelan PUD has a thoughtful and comprehensive Wildfire Mitigation Program in place to protect communities and increase the resiliency of the electrical grid. We continue to build upon this program as we learn more about wildfire risk in Chelan County, and adapt to changing conditions. 

Chelan County is a geographically diverse place with forested mountains, wetlands and shrub-steppe foothills. The tools we use to address wildfire risk are area-specific and backed by detailed fire risk studies and industry best-practices.
 

Chelan PUD's Wildfire Mitigation Program includes an array of tools, including:

  • Tree-trimming and brush removal
  • Fire-retardant treatments
  • Replacing wood with steel poles
  • Undergrounding lines where feasible
  • Equipment maintenance and upgrades
  • Increasing the sensitivity of fire protection systems
  • Increased inspections during fire season
  • Coordination with local agencies
  • Fire safety outage management
Photo of 2015 Chelan Complex Fire

The 2015 Chelan Complex Fire.

Vegetation Management

Chelan PUD's Vegetation Management Program is designed to prevent trees or other vegetation from coming into contact with utility lines. The PUD routinely inspects, prunes and/or removes vegetation that encroaches on utility lines. PUD arborists can help customers evaluate the power lines on their property and choose the correct trees for that area. Learn more about the program here

Photo of crew trimming hazard trees away from PUD power lines

Crews prune trees away from power lines.

Fire Hardening Projects

Fire hardening projects are improvements that will help prevent power outages due to fire activity, shorten the duration of an outage after a wildfire, and improve the resiliency and reliability of the PUD’s electrical system.

These projects may include:

  • Rerouting power lines out of high fire risk areas
  • Converting overhead distribution to underground where feasible
  • Applying fire retardant paint to wood poles
  • Upgrading poles from wood to steel
  • Replacing aging infrastructure
  • Installing animal guards


Fire hardening projects are included in our annual capital improvement program. Learn more about current capital improvement projects here


Photo of fire retardant paint on PUD wood poles

Fire retardant paint on a transmission pole. 

Chelan Transmission Fire Hardening Project

In 2021, Chelan PUD completed a wood-to-steel conversion of the transmission lines that serve the Lake Chelan Valley. Replacing wood poles with steel poles will allow fires to pass by and leave the line intact.




Photo shows a wood-to-steel transmission pole conversion. 

Image showing comparison of steel and wood transmission structures

Fire Protection Systems

Chelan PUD has electrical protective devices throughout our system that purposefully de-energize the line in the event of a fault for your safety. These systems also help to reduce the risk of fire ignition from power lines. As part of the wildfire mitigation program, we have implemented an operational change in some areas that have been identified as high risk to prevent our system from causing sparks during wildfire season.

Under typical operations, whenever there’s a disruption in the line – say a branch or a squirrel – the power will blink for a second then automatically restore. During fire season, in some areas of our service territory, we’re operating under different protocols to reduce the risk of fire. Instead of a blink, a disruption along the lines (transmission and distribution) will result in a power outage. Then our crews will investigate the line and restore power when it’s safe to do so.

This operational change may result in more power outages, or longer outages. We strive to balance reliability and safety in designing our system, but we emphasize safety above all else.


Fire Safety Outage Management

A fire safety outage is a proactive power outage designed to prevent wildfire ignitions from utility infrastructure during very high winds and dry conditions. We know the devastation that wildfires can have on a community, and we also recognize the impact on our customers when power is out. The decision to use a fire safety outage is one we take very seriously and is a rarely used measure of last resort. Learn more about fire safety outages here

More Information

Learn how you can prepare for wildfire by visiting our wildfire resources page

If you have questions about the Wildfire Mitigation Program, please email customeroutreach@chelanpud.org.