Department of Ecology News Release - July 25, 2014

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Large-scale generators can be used for power in wildfire region

OLYMPIA – Catastrophic wildfires have left thousands of residents and businesses without power across Eastern Washington, and a state of emergency has been declared by Gov. Jay Inslee. Electrical infrastructure that used to provide power has been devastated and cannot be repaired immediately. It may be quite some time before electricity is restored.

Because of the extreme conditions, the Washington Department of Ecology has temporarily suspended permit requirements for the use of large-scale generators. Generators with 500 horsepower or more can be used while there are power outages. Generators with less than 500 horsepower are already exempt from permit requirements.

“We recognize this is an extreme situation, and people need power,” said Cullen Stephenson, who manages Ecology’s Air Quality monitoring network. “We’re putting a hold on regulations for larger generators so people can power their homes and businesses.”

Permit restrictions are temporarily dropped for the following counties experiencing wildfire-caused power outages: Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman.

Ecology recommends generators run on the lowest sulfur fuel available to limit emissions into already-compromised air.

Safe generator operation

Before turning on a generator, always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Improper generator use could send electricity back into the dead powerlines, posing a risk to utility workers, firefighters and citizens. Citizens and businesses are strongly encouraged to visit the Washington Department of Health Generator Use During a Power Outage web page for safe operation guidance.

Carbon monoxide safety

Generators should always be used outside in a well-ventilated area away from doors, windows and vents. Otherwise, deadly, odorless carbon monoxide can be drawn into homes or businesses. Carbon Monoxide Safety information is also available on the Department of Health’s website.



Camille St. Onge, communication manager, 360-584-6501, @ecologyWA

Brook Beeler, communication manager, 509-329-3478, @ecyspokane