Southern California Edison has unveiled a $3.8 billion, three-year plan to avoid catastrophic wildfires by employing advanced technology to locate potential breakdowns in the system, while reducing the need to shut off power in high-fire areas, according to The Orange County Register.

The 2020-22 plan was presented for approval to the California Public Utilities Commission, which has 90 days to review it.

Last year’s plan, the first, called on Edison to cut thousands of fire-fueling trees, inspect thousands of miles of power lines and consider shutting off electrical power in some threatened areas.

“Last year, we made significant progress through implementation of our aggressive 2019 (plan), including hardening of the grid, increasing inspections and repairs, improving our ability to monitor our system and the weather, ” said the latest report. The new plan, the report says, “builds on the success of our 2019 efforts.”

It calls for insulating 4,500 miles of power lines by 2022 — up from 372 miles in 2019 — and installing fast-acting fuses in 3,000 locations in 2020 to more quickly interrupt power during a crisis.

“Now, we’re on the right track,” said Bill Chiu, an Edison managing director.

Added Phil Herrington, a senior vice president: “Our number one priority is the safety of the public, and the three-year plan is designed to further that commitment.”

The massive utility last year agreed to pay $360 million to cities and other public agencies to settle claims for three fires and one mudslide in 2017 and 2018. Included was the Woolsey Fire straddling Los Angeles and Ventura counties, which caused three deaths and destroyed more than 1,600 structures.

Among the planned advances, Edison will build at least 375 weather stations annually to monitor high-fire terrain that makes up 27% of the service area. The company also is piloting new technology to detect downed wires that could pose a wildlife risk. Other advances would help identify faults in the system before they break down.

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