Yosemite Fires Point Out Energy Strain in California
California Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency related to the wildfires burning near Yosemite, and said the fires “have caused damage to electrical infrastructure serving the City and County of San Francisco and now threaten damage to property, equipment, and resources of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
The proclamation also says the San Francisco PUC has been forced to shut down transmission lines because of the fires and San Francisco is likely to be further affected, including the possible temporary interruption of electricity and/or water delivery.
The threat to Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric power stations highlights the fact that California’s electric grid is stretched a bit thin, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
Earlier this year, the San Onofre nuclear power station near Los Angeles was permanently shuttered.
Pacific Gas and Electric serves much of San Francisco, but 400 MW of hydroelectric power comes from the Hetch Hetchy Power System in Yosemite, providing service to vital infrastructure such as San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco General Hospital, police, fire and other government entities, says the Christian Science Monitor.
The magazine points out that while electrical transmission and distribution lines are often an eyesore in otherwise pristine natural areas, they are crucial to cities such as San Francisco. Because the transmission lines cross vast wooded areas, they are especially vulnerable to wildfires.
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