Bipartisan effort to improve fire mitigation strategies
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – During the most intense and destructive fire season recorded in California’s history. San Diego County has managed to escape the flames mainly in part to strict preventative measures which were implemented after suffering the losses of the 2007 fires.
Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell from SDG&E, was in studio to tell us more about the efforts to improve the fire mitigation strategies in fire prone areas statewide.
Information on the strategies from the SDG&E website can be read below.
A series of bipartisan legislation efforts are trying to improve the fire mitigation strategies across the state to protect the citizens in fire prone areas.
San Diego, August 7, 2018 – During the most intense and destructive fire season recorded in California’s history, San Diego County has managed to escape the flames mainly in part to strict preventative measures which were implemented after suffering the losses of the 2008 fires. While legislation push for safer fire prevention measures continue at the state level, local fire departments along with key contributors such as SDG&E have coordinated the efforts in reducing the risk associated with fires in San Diego County, a county that up to the recent fires ravaging Northern California had witnessed the largest fire in the state’s history.
“One of the things we’ve realized is that weather and climate conditions are very important factors contributing to wildfires. We’ve taken preventative measures such as changing all wood poles to steel poles, making sure the system can withstand 85 mph winds and we’ve installed weather systems that include high definition cameras so we can monitor the conditions 24 hours a day year round.” said Mitch Mitchell, vice president of state government affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas).
In 2018, SDG&E received the 2018 Edison Award for its investments to enhance grid resiliency and to reduce climate-related and weather-related vulnerabilities, like wildfires, to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s energy grid for generations to come. SDG&E has developed, and continues to improve upon, a comprehensive fire risk mitigation program designed to prevent the ignition of wildfires, improve grid resiliency, and enhance public safety. This includes significant strategic investments to fire-harden the energy grid, increase situational awareness, update operating protocols, and improve the region’s ability to respond to wildfires.
“Through an ‘eye in the sky’ consisting of 100 high definition cameras and 160 weather stations we can pinpoint exactly when and where the fire risk is increased and we can prevent it immediately.” explained Mitchell about how San Diego Gas & Electric has been able to remain fire-free this season.
A new bipartisan bill introduced by Governor Brown would create common sense safe guards for preventive fire measures. SB901 would set fire prevention standards to plan for today so that we can prevent the fires of tomorrow. If passed, SB901 would require yearly fire mitigation planning and approval, customer education and involvement, coordinated first responder plans, criminal penalties for non-compliance, and mitigation plans for storms, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, and other major problems.
Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell is vice president of state government affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Sempra Energy’s California regulated utilities. Based in Sacramento, Mitchell is responsible for state governmental affairs for both California utilities. Prior to his current position, Mitchell was regional vice president of external affairs, responsible for public affairs and external affairs activities for SDG&E.
Prior to joining SDG&E in 2005, Mitchell served as vice president of public policy and communications at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce where he worked with the Chamber’s members and diverse volunteer base to develop a public policy agenda that is favorable to the business climate and standard of living in San Diego. He was also in charge of representing the Chamber and its members’ public policy positions to local, state and federal officials. Previously,
Mitchell was director of governmental relations for American Medical Response, the nation’s largest ambulance transportation firm. From 1996 to 1997, he served as assistant director of governmental relations for the San Diego Mayor’s Office under Mayor Susan Golding, overseeing the city’s legislative priorities and advising the mayor on policy issues. Prior to working at the mayor’s office, Mitchell was the director of governmental relations for the San Diego City Fire Fighters Local 145 IAFF, one of the city’s largest labor unions.
Mitchell is an active member of the community. He has served for several years on the board of directors for the San Diego Food Bank and the Children’s Museum, and he was previously on the boards of the San Diego Opera and Burn Institute. Mitchell is also a governor’s appointee to the Little Hoover Commission.
Mitchell earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Redlands.
Strict Fire Risk Mitigation Protocols Have Maintained Southern California “Fire Free” Throughout Extreme Climate Conditions