Office of Electricity

A Note of Appreciation: WAPA’s Crews Work Round the Clock to Restore Power Following the Carr Fire in California

August 2, 2018

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On behalf of the Department of Energy, I would like to thank the crews of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) for all of their hard work over the past week in restoring the transmission lines and other energy infrastructure brought down during California’s Carr fire and in keeping the power flowing.

Our thoughts are also with those in Redding and the surrounding area who perished and the people of California who have lost so much.  

The commitment and teamwork of the WAPA crews during this very dangerous situation have been admirable, as have the efforts of CAL FIRE, PG&E, Redding Electric Utility and City of Shasta Lake. A number of neighboring line crews have responded under mutual assistance agreements to help Redding and Shasta Lake in restoring their distribution and transmission systems.

The fire has had a significant impact on energy infrastructure. After it began on July 23, WAPA linemen began patrolling lines and monitoring the fire's progression around the clock with CAL FIRE to determine if the lines needed to be de-energized for safety. By July 26, WAPA had lost about 10 structures. That night, the fire had nearly quadrupled and jumped the Sacramento River into Redding, CA. When WAPA stood up an Emergency Operations Center the afternoon of July 27, a significant amount of energy infrastructure was out of service: 15 115-kV and 230-kV lines, 6 substations, and 13 hydroelectric generators. WAPA had three communities that were relying on it for power because of all the outages. Those communities are normally connected to the bulk electric system, but due to the damage, were only connected to WAPA.  WAPA’s operations staff in California stretched the remaining system as far as possible to keep power flowing to Shasta Lake, Redding and Trinity County.

Picture of transmission tower brought down by the fire
Transmission tower brought down during the Carr fire | Photo courtesy of WAPA

As of August 2, only one WAPA transmission line and one hydroelectric generator were out of service. One damaged line was where a "firenado" ripped the steel structures from the ground, resulting in tangled heaps of steel transmission towers, cars, trees and other debris. Crews erected temporary wood structures and last night restored service on that line. During this event, WAPA employees and their families were evacuated, and two lost their homes. Thankfully, all WAPA employees are accounted for. Here at DOE Headquarters, the ISER Division in the Department’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) has been monitoring the situation closely and coordinating with WAPA, PG&E, and local and federal officials.

Picture of WAPA crew that has helped restore power following the Carr fire
WAPA crews erected temporary wood structures at the Carr Fire firenado site amid tangled heaps of steel structures, cars, trees and other debris. | Photo courtesy of WAPA

The Department is committed to protecting the nation’s critical energy infrastructure from all hazards, including both natural and man-made events. As WAPA and local resources continue restoring the energy infrastructure and service to Redding and the surrounding area, we wish the WAPA crews, WAPA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Mark A. Gabriel, and the personnel of PG&E, Redding Electric Utility, and City of Shasta Lake well as they help ensure the people of California have the power needed to recover from this devastating event.  

More information about WAPA’s work during the Carr fire is online HERE.