Poor air quality during wildfires related to support for public safety power shutoffs
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Chad Zanocco; Greg Stelmach; Leanne Giordono; June Flora; Hilary Boudet
Publication Year: 2022

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • climate change adaptation
  • grid resilience
  • Oregon
  • power outage
  • PSPS - Public Safety Power Shutoff
  • public support
  • public survey
  • wildfire
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 17, 2022
FRAMES Record Number: 66932


Millions of Americans experienced impacts from the 2020 wildfire season, including unhealthy air quality from smoke. We examine how exposure to poor air quality during wildfires relates to public opinion toward Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPSs). PSPSs have been increasingly deployed in the Western U.S. during extreme wildfire conditions to reduce ignition risk from power equipment by de-energizing sections of the electrical grid, potentially leaving impacted areas without electricity for multiple days. We surveyed Oregon residents (nā€‰=ā€‰1,308), a state where few PSPSs have been deployed, and found that a majority of respondents supported PSPSs, and that poorer air quality during wildfires, recorded from monitoring stations proximal to respondents, was related to increased support for PSPSs. We also found that females and those with liberal political orientations were more supportive of PSPSs. This research has implications for utilities, emergency managers, and policymakers as they consider deployment of PSPSs to mitigate wildfire.

Online Link(s):
Zanocco, Chad; Stelmach, Greg; Giordono, Leanne; Flora, June; Boudet, Hilary. 2022. Poor air quality during wildfires related to support for public safety power shutoffs. Society & Natural Resources online early.