FEATURE // WildFiRE Risk AssEssmEnT line crew restores electric service in 2015 after wildfire swept through canyons near lake Chelan. (Chelan County PUD) damage, criticality to the system, cost of replacement, and accessibility to monitor and return to service after a failure. Many of the highest-scoring line segments are in remote areas where fuel conditions are conducive to a destructive fire. Some of these lines provide direct service to customers with little system redundancy and more-flammable building materials, such as wood. This information is being used to evaluate the best way to mitigate and reduce the PUD’s overall risk profile within existing budgets. These measures include operations and maintenance spending for: Applying fire retardant paint (hardening) to wood transmission poles; Building access roads to reduce risks associated with accessibility; Moving forward with capital upgrades and replacements through feasibility studies; and Doing preliminary designs for future line rebuilds. Chelan PUD also is seeking opportunities to investigate other industry programs and processes to reduce its overall risk of service failures due to wildfire. Future assessment review and alternative considerations Chelan PUD staff can use the data they have to continue monitoring the system after upgrades are completed, and reevaluate wildfire conditions on a schedule. They also can add or substitute different hazards, such as a mudslide, flooding, ice and wind storms, or an earthquake, to the evaluation. The Chelan PUD and HDR teams worked together to review the wildfires that were causing service failures, while also considering other important risk factors to Chelan PUD’s operations. This approach can be used to evaluate the risk of additional hazards or natural events yet to come. Western Energy / Fall 2017 / westernenergy.org/we Ben MCKinsey leads HDR’s Utility Risk Assessment Program, which is focused on helping utilities proactively plan for wildfires and other disasters. As a transmission project manager with more than nine years of experience, he has worked on transmission projects ranging from 25kV to 345kV across the country. JiM CalDwell is a senior transmission engineer at Chelan County PUD, focused on transmission line designs, project management and construction oversight. steve wiCKel is the transmission engineering manager at Chelan 22 County PUD, and is responsible for all aspects of transmission engineering and maintenance. He also served as an officer and a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy, and worked for Kaiser Aluminum and the Bonneville Power Administration.