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February 24, 2021

Power may be shut off to Cedar City, Provo Canyon due to wildfire risks

SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power says it is closely monitoring the weather conditions in Cedar City in southern Utah as well as in Provo Canyon and is prepared to cut power to those areas because of high wildfire danger.

“Unfortunately, fire season is not over. Extended drought has made vegetation extremely dry and very susceptible to any spark,” the utility company said in a statement released Friday.

“Even with cooler temperatures that could moderate fire behavior during evening hours, the fire season will not be over until these areas receive a season-ending weather event. This will require substantial rain or snow across a two- or three-day period.”

The forecast for Friday and Saturday called for low humidity and high winds. That coupled with dry vegetation may mean those areas could meet the criteria for a Public Safety Power Shutoff.

A shutoff is used as a last resort to help ensure community safety, the utility company said, and is designed to impact as few customers as possible in those identified areas.

The voluntary shutoff of power is part of Rocky Mountain’s wildfire prevention plan that also includes additional safety inspections, upgrades to the grid system, and weather stations that monitor for hazardous conditions.

First introduced in 2019, power shutoff plans in this state have not had to be utilized.

Such a practice of targeted blackouts have been extensive in California during the 2020 wildfire season, with millions affected by utility companies’ desires to avoid having electrical lines responsible for sparking a blaze.

Last month, Rocky Mountain Power announced it was closely monitoring conditions that include dry vegetation and sustained winds and gusts in the Sundance area and the Summit Park area of Summit County for a possible termination of power.

The utility company ended up not having to act.

Affected customers will receive follow-up notifications in advance should a shut-off event be initiated. For all non-emergency questions about the Public Safety Power Shutoff watch, customers and the public should call Rocky Mountain Power at 1-888-221-7070. Customers should also update their contact information to allow the company to provide emergency updates.

More information can be found on the utility company’s website.

Amy Joi O’Donoghue

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