NEW CALIFORNIA State Department Targets Infrastructure

This past summer, California created a new department dedicated to stopping its strained electrical grid from causing more catastrophic wildfires. The Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (OEIS) became a standalone department, with Caroline Thomas Jacobs named director.

OEIS is fleshing itself out with energy experts, analysts, engineers, inspectors and attorneys. In simplest terms, the department will keep a watchful eye on state electricity providers’ plans to harden their network against changing climate, a drying state and an ever-growing need for electricity.

“We have our own direct authority to conduct inspections,” Jacobs explained. “The difference is, we are proactively looking at the infrastructure. There are more eyes and ears in the field.”

Jacobs explained that one long-standing practice, known as “run to failure” is on the way out. “We need to shift from the old model to managing life cycles – replacing something before it fails, not waiting for it to fail.”

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