SAN FRANCISCO — As woody debris piles up from dead trees killed by drought and bark beetle infestation, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has launched an expanded debris management program to support its customers in 10 counties severely impacted by California’s growing tree mortality emergency.
PG&E is offering the expanded debris removal program to customers in Kern, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado and Placer counties, where unprecedented tree mortality has occurred and a local State of Emergency has been declared. Customers can request PG&E’s assistance in hauling away larger woody debris from their property at no cost to the customer.
The U.S. Forest Service has identified an additional 26 million trees dead in California since October 2015 due to drought and bark beetle, bringing the total to 66 million since 2010. The tiny beetles, the size of a piece of cooked rice, tunnel under the bark of drought-stressed trees such as the Ponderosa Pine and cut off their food and water supplies. PG&E is forecasting to remove approximately 160,000 dead or dying trees in its service area this year as part of its drought emergency response program.
“Nothing is more important to PG&E than public safety,” said Eric Back, director of electric asset management, compliance and risk management for PG&E. “That’s why we are removing dead and dying trees near our power lines to reduce wildfire risk. The high volume of limbs and trunks on the ground are a fire hazard and impact a homeowner’s ability to use their property. This new program will help our customers stay safe and enjoy their natural surroundings.”
The expanded debris management program is available to customers with dead or dying trees impacted by drought and/or bark beetle that could contact PG&E electric facilities in the ten counties listed above. The utility only will dispose of debris that it takes down. The debris must be reasonably accessible by equipment/machinery; and debris must be within 100 feet of permanent structures or within 20 feet of serviceable roadways.
Customers who are interested in utilizing the expanded debris management program should contact PG&E at the time of inspection before it removes the tree(s), if possible, or at 1-800-743-5000.
PG&E is actively participating in the Governor’s Task Force on Tree Mortality and responding to the drought emergency and extreme fire risk in a number of ways.
· The company has doubled the number of vegetation patrols in high-fire risk areas around its high-voltage power lines;
· It launched daily aerial patrols in five regions to help spot and speed fire agency response to wildfires;
· It continues to look for new ways to utilize advanced technology to better detect dying and diseased trees earlier in the cycle.
Customers can help prevent property damage, power outages and wildfires by inspecting trees on their property. PG&E will remove dead, dying or diseased trees near high-voltage power lines for free. Customers can report a hazardous tree by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. To learn about how PG&E is working to improve service reliability and power line safety click here.
PG&E is subcontracting the debris management work to Phillips and Jordan, a nationally-recognized civil contractor. Phillips and Jordan specializes in emergency response, disaster cleanup and debris management, and led debris disposal after Hurricane Katrina and the Butte Fire.
PG&E and Phillips and Jordan are identifying sort yard sites where they can haul the debris. At the sorting sites, the debris may be processed into biomass chips, cut into useable lengths for making lumber, or hauled away for animal bedding shavings or fiberboard chips.