Environmental Leadership
November 14, 2023

Early wildfire detection can help safeguard communities

Xcel Energy expands its wildfire detection camera network across Colorado

At Xcel Energy, we recognize that wildfires pose a significant year-round threat to our customers and our communities. As climate conditions have changed, the overall risk, frequency and severity of wildfires has increased. The traditional idea of a fire “season” has evolved into a year-long battle against rapidly changing and more extreme weather conditions that can generate larger, more intense and faster moving wildfires.   
As part of our commitment to safety, we’re proactively implementing programs to minimize ignition risks associated with operating our system to improve safety and reduce wildfire threats across our service area. We’re continually making strategic investments and improvements to support our power grid, build resilience and increase our situational awareness to mitigate wildfire risk – and that’s why we’re working with Pano AI to expand our network of early wildfire detection cameras. 
By the end of 2023, twenty-one Pano Rapid Detect camera systems will cover more than 1.5 million acres in Colorado. Pano Rapid Detect integrates data sourced from state-of-the-art cameras, geostationary satellites and other data feeds, 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence and cloud-based software to actively monitor for smoke from new wildfire ignitions. 
These systems are deployed on high vantage points and continuously scan the landscape using 360-degree, ultra-high-definition cameras and artificial intelligence to spot, evaluate and signal wildfire activity within a 15-mile radius. As soon as an incident is detected, a notification is sent to Xcel Energy and first responders, providing detailed visuals and location triangulation.  
Strategically placed camera deployments will offer greater visibility for first responders in hard-to-monitor terrain, providing critical early and real-time situational awareness when a wildfire ignites. With built-in alerts and mobile notifications, first responders will always have up-to-date time-lapse imagery and key information on fire location and movement—empowering them to coordinate a rapid response to wildfire events with greater accuracy and control. 
Wildfire Mitigation Program 
Since 2019, we’ve invested over $450 million in wildfire mitigation activities to help protect lives, homes and Colorado’s forests from the threat of wildfire. Our comprehensive Wildfire Mitigation Program includes: 
  • System hardening initiatives and inspections to strengthen equipment, reduce the chance of causing ignitions and increase protection in extreme weather conditions. 
  • Operational and situational awareness efforts, which increase the sensitivity of our electric system protection during high fire threat conditions to reduce the risk of potential ignitions. 
  • Working directly with our communities and first responders to inform, educate and further refine our program. 
Learn more about our Wildfire Mitigation Program.