Increasing the Reliability of Our Electric Service


Photo: Linda Cicero

PG&E continues to make significant investments to increase the reliability and capacity of the electric grid, with upgrades across our extensive network of wires, substations and other essential assets to meet the needs of our customers.

Our work last year included:

  1. Completing a targeted circuit improvement plan focusing on more than 80 of our least reliable circuits, installing overhead distribution line fuses and adding new line reclosers. This is part of a multi-year program to identify and repair the 400 least-reliable distribution circuits throughout our service area by the end of 2014.
  2. Working to better predict and plan for winter storm- and summer heat-related outages. We are enhancing our use of current and historical data to estimate the number of outages by geographic region and the associated crews needed to restore power to the affected areas.
  3. Replacing aging transmission and distribution equipment such as the large transformer banks in our substations that convert voltages to levels that supply power locally.
  4. Increasing automation on our system, including enabling remote operation of reclosers to more quickly restore power after an outage.

These investments are among the key drivers in improving our system’s reliability. As shown by the indicators below, we continue to improve our reliability according to industry-accepted performance measures. While our progress in 2010 fell short of our aggressive targets, we reduced the frequency of electric outages our customers experienced, or SAIFI, to its lowest level since 1988. We also achieved our best marks since 2000 on CAIDI, the average restoration time, and recorded our best performance since 1994 on SAIDI, which measures the average duration of outages per customer.

Benchmarking PG&E's Reliability Performance

Moving forward, PG&E is implementing the Cornerstone Improvement Project in 2011 to 2013, a major investment in our electric distribution system consisting of three main strategies: increasing the capacity and interconnectivity of distribution lines and substations, establishing “self-healing” automation systems on distribution lines to quickly restore power to customers after an outage and installing additional protective devices in rural areas. This effort will supplement our work to identify and repair the 400 least-reliable distribution circuits on our system.

The Cornerstone project is one aspect of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Smart Grid Deployment Plan, which is not just a roadmap, but a fundamental change to the way PG&E uses technology to serve its customers and operate its business.

PG&E’s customers will see many benefits from the Smart Grid in the coming years, including the ability to lower energy bills by controlling energy use. Customers will also enjoy increased reliability of service, including faster outage detection and restoration, as well as greater convenience from faster response to service requests.

For more information on investments to strengthen the safety and reliability of our gas transmission and distribution system, review this section.

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