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PG&E Outlines Actions It’s Taking to Keep Customers and Communities Safe During 2020 Wildfire Season to allow PG&E to safely energize thousands of customers and shrink the footprint of the PSPS event.
PG&E Outlines Actions It’s Taking to Keep Customers and Communities Safe During 2020 Wildfire Season to allow PG&E to safely energize thousands of customers and shrink the footprint of the PSPS event.

PG&E Making The System Stronger and More Resilient

Jun 17, 2020

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Actions PG&E  Is Taking to Keep Customers and Communities Safe During 2020 Wildfire Season include a focus on shorter, smaller and smarter Public Safety Power Shutoff events.

Wildfire Mitigation Tools

As part of its ongoing efforts to further reduce wildfire risks, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has implemented a number of new and enhanced wildfire mitigation tools to keep customers and communities safe.

Despite the impacts of COVID-19 on our entire society, PG&E has remained focused on executing important wildfire safety work as part of the company’s Community Wildfire Safety Program.

Burying Power lines. Photo: ID 164601126 © Sheila Fitzgerald | Dreamstime.com-tdworld.com/wildfire/article/21127664Key milestones accomplished by the PG&E crews and contractors who continue to work in the field during this pandemic, while physical distancing, to keep their neighbors and communities safe include, as of May 29:

System Hardening: Installed stronger poles, covered lines and targeted undergrounding across 105 miles as part of a full-year plan for hardening 241 line miles. 

Converting electric overhead lines to underground

Data that brings light on the cost and reliability of burying lines.

https://www.tdworld.com/wildfire/article/21127664/pge-case-study-burying-lines-to-prevent-wildfires-is-cost-effective ]

More here: https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/customer-service/other-services/electric-undergrounding-program/electric-undergrounding-program.page

Enhanced Vegetation Management: Inspected, pruned and removed vegetation that poses a higher potential for wildfire risk; completed 939 miles out of a planned 1,800 total miles.

More Weather Stations and Cameras: PG&E installed 116 advanced weather stations and 50 more high-definition cameras, with targets of 400 and 200 for the year, respectively.

Sectionalizing Devices: Separated the distribution grid into smaller sections for operational flexibility; 216 devices out of 592 targeted for the year are now operational.

Eric Garcia, a lineman in Bakersfield, looks down at the Nova recloser that he is installing on a utility pole in Bakersfield. The new switch will help improve electric service to local customers. (Photos by Tracy Correa.)-pgecurrents.comTransmission Line Switches: Installed line switches to redirect power and keep communities energized. More than the 23 switches planned for this year have been installed.

PG&E Outlines Actions It’s Taking to Keep Customers and Communities Safe During 2020 Wildfire Season to allow PG&E to safely energize thousands of customers and shrink the footprint of the PSPS event. 

“Wildfire season is upon us, and the public can be assured of PG&E’s unwavering efforts to improve public safety and further reduce wildfire risk. The steps we are taking to keep our customers and communities safe are unprecedented and include everything from more robust vegetation management and hardening the grid to making our Public Safety Power Shutoff events smaller and shorter to making our website more resilient,” said Michael Lewis, senior vice president of Electric Operations for PG&E. 

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Program 

Here’s how PG&E is working to make PSPS events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for customers.

Smaller in Size

PG&E is upgrading its electric system to prevent wildfires and reduce the impact of future PSPS events on our customers. The company’s efforts this year are expected to reduce the number of customers affected by a potential PSPS event by about one-third compared to a similar weather event last year. To make PSPS events smaller, PG&E is:

Installing 592 sectionalizing devices capable of redirecting power and limiting the size of outages so fewer communities are without power.

Installing microgrids that use generators to keep the lights on for communities.
https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/PGE-construction-temporary-microgrid

Conducting targeted undergrounding as part of system hardening*

The reliability of underground lines is actually far superior to overhead lines. The average outage duration a customer experiences on an underground line in the U.S. is typically more than 90% lower than on an overhead line. It is true that underground lines are impacted by outages, but the number of outages is typically far lower than for overhead lines. PG&E mentions these outages can take almost twice as long to repair as overhead repairs; however, power restoration can happen quickly for newer installations because of electronic fault detectors and availability of spare cables.

*https://www.tdworld.com/wildfire/article/21127664/pge-case-study-burying-lines-to-prevent-wildfires-is-cost-effective 

Shorter in Length

PG&E is seeking to cut restoration times in half compared to 2019 so that power is restored to the majority of customers within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed. Steps the company is taking include:

  • Nearly doubling the exclusive-use helicopter fleet during events from 35 to 65.

  • Using two airplanes with infrared cameras capable of inspecting transmission lines at night.

  • Mobilizing more field crews to speed up power-line inspections.

  • Investing in more reliable and innovative equipment, so PG&E field teams can inspect, repair and restore power quickly.

  • Utilizing mutual assistance from other utility companies to support PSPS restoration inspections when needed.

Smarter for Customers 

PG&E is working to provide better information and resources to customers and communities before, during and after a PSPS event, including delivering more assistance and outreach to help vulnerable customers. This smarter approach will include: 

  • Improving weather-monitoring technology, including installing new weather stations to more precisely predict the need for and timing of PSPS events. 

  • Improving customer alerts with earlier estimates of restoration timing.

  • Upgrading Community Resource Centers (CRCs) so that customers without power have a place to go for device-charging and other basic needs. PG&E remains flexible with CRC deployment plans to adjust to the COVID-19 restrictions and best practices.

  • Establishing a new collaborative working approach with cities, counties, tribes and critical-service providers.

  • Bolstering  www.pge.com   website capacity.

Partnering with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers and other community-based organizations to provide resources for vulnerable customers and conduct outreach. See www.disabilitydisasteraccess.org   for more information.

  • Expanding in-language communications.

  • Customer Support

  • PG&E is actively exploring and developing additional services and programs to support customers during a PSPS event.

  • Easing Medical Baseline Access

PG&E is making it easier for eligible customers to join and re-enroll in the Medical Baseline program, which provides a discount on electric service and extra alerts leading up to, and during, PSPS events.

Community-Based Organization Support and Partnerships

PG&E is partnering with community-based organizations to assist vulnerable customers before, during and after PSPS events. Activities include:

Collaborating with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers through a grant program to support the Access and Functional Needs (AFN) community.

Providing more in-language communications in a variety of languages. 

Expanding availability of materials in American Sign Language.

Establishing an advisory group to identify the emergency preparedness needs of the AFN community and facilitate the joint development of solutions.

Website and Call Center Improvements

PG&E continues to make key website and call center improvements to ensure servers can withstand higher levels of traffic during a PSPS event and customers are able to access important outage information.

Self-Generation Incentive Program

PG&E is providing incentives to vulnerable customers and critical facilities as part of the California Public Utility Commission’s (CPUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). Through the program, vulnerable customers can access incentives from the CPUC to cover up to 100 percent of backup battery and installation costs, based on income, medical nee

How Customers Can Take Action

In advance of severe weather, PG&E encourages all customers to update their contact information atwww.pge.com/mywildfirealerts and to make a plan to be ready for emergencies. More information including helpful tips can be found atwww.safetyactioncenter.pge.com.

PG&E is also hosting a series of county webinars through August about the Community Wildfire Safety Program. For a full schedule of events and more information on PG&E wildfire prevention efforts, visit   www.pge.com/wildfiresafety .

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes forward-looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about the beliefs, expectations, estimates, future plans and strategies of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, including but not limited to statements about its PSPS program and customer support.  These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions, which management believes are reasonable, and on information currently available to management, but are necessarily subject to various risks and uncertainties.

In addition to the risk that these assumptions prove to be inaccurate, factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements include factors disclosed in PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s joint annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, their joint quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020, and their subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are available on PG&E Corporation’s website at www.pgecorp.com and on the SEC website atwww.sec.gov. Additional factors include, but are not limited to, those associated with the Chapter 11 cases of PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company that commenced on January 29, 2019. PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether due to new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by law.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 24,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit   www.pge.com  and   www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.

More Information

Other articles and info

Could buried power cables prevent further fires in California?

https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/insight-could-buried-power-cables-prevent-further-fires-in-california-14-11-2018 

SCE Crews Insulate Power Lines to Prepare for Active Wildfire Season

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200403005499/en/ 

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/09/10/ca-utility-replacing-1000s-of-miles-of-power-lines-to-reduce-wildfire-risk 

Data that brings more accuracy on the cost and reliability of burying lines.

https://www.tdworld.com/wildfire/article/21127664/pge-case-study-burying-lines-to-prevent-wildfires-is-cost-effective 

 

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