SMUD resumes power generation after minor King fire damage

Officials at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District say their facilities in the Sierra Nevada have come through the King fire largely unscathed, and the utility again is generating electricity.

The utility is the primary electricity supplier in Sacramento County and operates a network of hydroelectric reservoirs in the portion of the Sierra Nevada burned by the King fire. After the fire started Sept. 13, SMUD took its reservoirs offline, in response to damage and in some cases as a precaution. The utility purchased electricity on the open market instead. No outages occurred.

Scott Flake, SMUD’s director of power generation, said a high-voltage power line that crosses the King fire burn area is still shut down at the request of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, and one powerhouse in the area remains out of commission. But the utility is operating its hydroelectric generators again, though at just 30 percent of capacity because of the shutdowns.

He said SMUD avoided worse damage because it has a regular program to clear vegetation around power lines, and its powerhouse buildings are built mainly of fire-resistant concrete. One powerhouse suffered damage to its roof, and a small power line constructed with wooden poles also was damaged.

“Other than that, they came through just fine,” Flake said. “The physical damage is not significant. Things are actually going pretty well for us.”

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