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AVISTA Wildfire Resiliency Plan may help rural insurance

Wildfires in the western states are one of the major drivers of property losses and insurance costs.  AVISA Utilities has announced a plan of fighting wildfires before they happen. 

In a May 28,2024 news release, AVISTA announced a Wildfire Resiliency Plan.  The plan includes a new strategy to their wildfire mitigation plan for the most extreme conditions called a Public Safety Power Shutoff, or PSPS. Beginning this year, Avista may turn off power in specific locations to help protect public safety.

Shawn Sullivan, American Insurance president, applauded Avista’s efforts as an added means of reducing wildfire risk. “Rural properties have become difficult to insure and premium rates have increased in all insurance markets . Avista’s PSPS plan, if successful, may reduce wildfire claims and ultimately benefit all rural customers will lower insurance rates”, said Sullivan.

According to the news release, for over 20 years, Avista has made temporary changes to power line operations during the summer. The temporary changes are called Fire Safety Mode. During normal operations, our lines are set to try several times to clear a fault, reducing outage times. In Fire Safety Mode, to reduce the risk of fire, our line stays out until our crews determine it’s safe. Only then will we turn it back on. This can require more time to restore service but decreases potential fire danger. Throughout the season, if higher winds and more extreme weather conditions are forecasted, we can increase the sensitivity of lines in specific areas. If trees, branches, or other debris come in contact with Avista’s power lines, the line will go out immediately.

“Based on learning from other utilities who have implemented PSPS, it would only be used in the most extreme weather conditions,” said Heather Rosentrater, Avista President and COO. “We have other operational changes we can make, and we have been working for years to make our system stronger and more resilient. However, as we encounter more extreme weather events, we want to be prepared for all possibilities, and this is now a best practice in our industry.”

“We’re continuing to replace wooden transmission poles with steel, installing fire-retardant wire mesh around the base of wood poles, replacing wooden crossarms with stronger fiberglass options, and increasing vegetation management to reduce contact between trees and power lines. PSPS will only be considered when and where the risk of a fire is extreme, and we will notify customers before de-energizing. Make sure your business’s contact information is up to date with Avista so we can reach you about potential outages.”

Contact us at American Insurance today to review your rural seasonal home, farm or ranch policy to make sure all your important structures are insured for the correct limits and coverage. We represent and can access multiple insurance companies to help you find better rates and coverage.  

Read how to better insure and protect your rural properties with these articles from American Insurance…
WILDFIRE -- Take these steps to protect your rural home
Wildfire Insurance – You Must Plan Ahead

Read about Avista’s plans and how you can be prepared at or watch this video to learn more. Avista Utilities provides electricity to 418,000 customers and natural gas to 382,000 customers in four northwestern states.

Source: AVISTA, Energy Solutions Business Newsletter, May 28, 2024, Avista is fighting wildfires before they happen