PG&E Actions for Safety During 2020 Wildfire Season
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.
Key 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.
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.
Transmission 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.
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: