Oregon Public Utility Commission
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News Release
*Update* Statement from the Oregon Public Utility Commission - 09/11/20

 **UPDATE**

The PUC’s original statement explained the status of the PUC’s information regarding the investor-owned utilities that it regulates. By addressing only our information regarding investor-owned utilities, and not Oregon’s consumer-owned utilities, the PUC did not intend to imply that it had different information about consumer-owned utilities’ relationship to wildfires. The PUC clarifies that it also has no information attributing any specific wildfire to any of Oregon’s consumer-owned utilities, and has updated the bolded quotation below to reflect this. Results of full investigations are needed to determine whether power lines were the primary ignition of any specific wildfire and, if so, which ones.

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Statement

“On behalf of the PUC, I extend our condolences to all our communities affected by this wildfire tragedy,” said Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chair Megan Decker. “The PUC is actively working to support first responders and firefighters who are working to ensure the safety of Oregonians, as well as our utility service providers working to restore essential services to Oregonians where it is safe to do so.”

As Oregon continues to prioritize efforts on life safety and fire containment, initial reports from fire managers have linked electric utility power lines to some of the fires burning in Oregon. The PUC regulates investor-owned electric utilities, such as Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. Thirty-eight consumer-owned electric utilities also provide electric service in the state. 

Downed power lines can be a source of ignition and will be examined in the formal investigations that are yet to come.  "At this point the PUC has no information attributing any specific wildfire to any specific Oregon utility," said PUC Chair Megan Decker. "As with every major fire, full investigations will deliver the facts that we need to determine root causes, including information about whether utility lines were a primary ignition source. Accurate, objectively determined facts are what we need to keep Oregonians safe from rapidly evolving fire threats in a changing climate."

In addition to reviewing the results of fire investigations conducted by others, which ultimately will determine the cause of each wildfire, the PUC is committed to rapidly incorporating any lessons that may be learned from this unprecedented weather event into our ongoing work on utility wildfire mitigation in preparation for future extreme weather events.

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