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Idaho Power holds public meeting to discuss Public Safety Power Shutoff in Kuna

Posted at 7:34 AM, Jun 14, 2024

KUNA, Idaho — Idaho Power held a public informational meeting Thursday evening to discuss their Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program with the community. A PSPS event would mean that Idaho Power could cut power to parts of Kuna, in the event of extreme fire weather conditions.

  • This is the third year Idaho Power will be using the PSPS program, though the utility company has never had to call a PSPS event.
  • Many factors are considered before calling a PSPS event including high temperature, low humidity, high wind, dry vegetation and public safety.
  • You can learn more about Public Safety Power Shutoff events and find maps of areas that would be effected by power cuts here.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

“So we’re here in Kuna tonight to talk to our customers in this area about what we’re doing for wildfire mitigation and also to help them prepare for the potential of outages,” said Jon Axtman, the Director of Wildfire Mitigation and Transmission and Distribution engineering for Idaho Power.

He tells me that Kuna is one of the areas Idaho Power serves that is susceptible to wildfires.

“Really what makes Kuna unique is that there are some areas where our modeling shows the potential for elevated wildfire risk. We want our customers to know the steps we’re taking to decrease risk and how to be prepared for the potential of PSPS,” added Axtman.

PSPS or Public Safety Power Shutoff means that Idaho Power could proactively cut power at times this summer, when there's a high risk for wildfires to start.

“On days when the wildfire potential is high, we’ll change our sensitivity settings. That’s how our system operates during that time to operate in a more sensitive state,” says Axtman.

Axtman tells me that this is the third year Idaho Power will run the program, although the company has never had to call a Public Safety Power Shutoff event.

“We had 50 strike teams, which is 300 firetrucks. There was basically a firetruck in front of every house,” said Rick Ward, a Boise resident.

He has experience with wildfires from his time in Northern California. He tells me that he is happy to see programs like this from Idaho Power.

“They’re making steps to prevent the kinds of problems that I have experienced, so I appreciate that,” said Ward.

Ted Vander Schaaf is a dairy farmer in Kuna who spoke out at the meeting, sharing concerns for his animals.

“I don’t wanna be shutting off huge swaths of farm ground. I don’t want to be shutting off dairy operations if it’s unnecessary,” said Vander Schaaf.

He tells me that not knowing how long the power could be cut concerns him.

“That’s the biggest fear here right now at least, is kind of the fear of the unknown. I don’t know what we’re getting into here and I’m afraid about things that I’ve heard in other states and the extended periods of time that their power was off," added Vander Schaaf.

“When I read that ‘PSPS’ I’m going, well that sounds inconvenient. The more I think about its like.. It's really smart. I think it’s wise to make these kinds of precautionary programs,” said Ward.

Idaho Power says the best thing you can do in preparation for a power shutoff is make sure your contact information is up to date so they can reliably contact you. You can update your information and find maps of areas that would be impacted by an event like this on their website.