PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2020

Plan of Reorganization Commitments

Electric Operations

We continue to enhance and strengthen our infrastructure, including making substantial investments to upgrade the energy grid and our operations. Doing so is central to our mission to provide safe and reliable energy—and to addressing the continued impacts of climate change, including more extreme weather events.

We understand that we have much work to do in this area, which is why we are taking decisive action to repair or replace aging electric assets and implement enhanced and additional safety precautions to further reduce wildfire risks and help keep the customers and communities we serve safe.

As part of our multiyear plan, PG&E continues to build a smarter grid designed to incorporate new energy technologies as they are introduced and to give our customers increased flexibility, choice and value. This integrated grid platform also gives PG&E greater visibility to improve operational effectiveness and to more effectively integrate renewable energy with conventional sources.

Our Approach

Prolonged periods of high temperatures, extreme dryness and record-high winds have created conditions in our state where any spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire. Our climate continues to change: in less than a decade, the area served by PG&E that the CPUC has designated to be at a high risk of wildfire has increased from 15 to 52 percent—an increase of more than 300 percent.

We are committed to working together—PG&E, our government and all Californians—to adapt our electric system to the growing threat of wildfires, while also helping our customers prepare for service interruptions under our Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program. We have a comprehensive plan for reducing wildfire risks which includes new grid technology, a critical hardening of the electric system, enhanced vegetation management and more, with short-, medium- and long-term plans to make our system safer.

We know how much our customers rely on electric service and want to work together to share information and help them prepare for and stay safe during outages related to severe weather events. We are listening and incorporating feedback from our customers, local, state and tribal officials and wildfire safety experts as we prioritize and implement wildfire safety work.

Our Community Wildfire Safety Program includes immediate and comprehensive actions to upgrade our infrastructure, monitor fire threats in real time and institute new wildfire safety measures.

  • We’re installing real-time monitoring and situational awareness tools so we can better understand how severe weather can impact our system and proactively respond to potential threats.
  • We’re taking new and enhanced safety measures to minimize wildfire threats and keep our customers and communities safe by:
    • Meeting and exceeding state vegetation and fire safety standards
    • Continuing to accelerate inspections of our electric infrastructure in high fire-risk areas
    • Improving our PSPS program to make shutoffs shorter in duration, smaller in size and smarter in performance for our customers
  • We’re hardening our system and improving resiliency to reduce the need for PSPS events by:
    • Strengthening our infrastructure with stronger poles, covered power lines and targeted undergrounding
    • Installing sectionalizing devices to more quickly and efficiently isolate impacted communities
    • Establishing new microgrids to allow PG&E to provide electricity to thousands of customers and central community resources serving local customers during a PSPS event

2019 Milestones

In 2019, as part of our commitment to safety, many of PG&E’s efforts focused on additional measures intended to further reduce wildfire threats.

Here is some of what was achieved in 2019:

  • Cleared thousands of miles via Enhanced Vegetation Management work: Work to keep trees away from power lines continued as PG&E crews and contractors pruned or removed trees with a higher potential for wildfire risk along approximately 2,498 miles of distribution lines, topping the goal of 2,455 miles.
  • Made the electric system stronger and more resilient: We installed stronger and more resilient poles and covered power lines on 171 circuit miles, 21 more miles than the goal of 150 miles. Over the next 12 to 14 years, approximately 7,100 miles will be hardened in high fire-threat areas.
  • Added new technology to our Wildfire Safety Operations Center, the 24/7 command center for PG&E’s wildfire monitoring and response: The center, based in PG&E’s San Francisco headquarters, received technological and facility upgrades in 2019 that included a tool that enables better coordination and communication with field personnel and the addition of using satellites for spotting fire starts.
  • Completed unprecedented wildfire safety inspections: We completed 100 percent of visual inspections and aerial inspections of nearly 50,000 transmission structures as well as visual inspections of nearly 700,000 distribution poles and 222 substations in high fire-risk areas. All of the more than 1,100 highest safety risk issues found through these inspections have been repaired or resolved.
  • Installed hundreds more weather stations, which provide hyper-local information and increased situational awareness: We installed 426 weather stations, 26 more than the goal of 400. By 2022, there will be 1,300 weather stations in operation.
  • Turned on more high-definition cameras, an effective tool for early spotting of wildfires and monitoring real-time conditions: We installed 133 high-definition cameras, 37 cameras above the goal for the year. By 2022, 600 cameras will be in operation.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs:

We also initiated and improved Public Safety Power Shutoffs. For public safety, it is sometimes necessary for PG&E to turn off electricity when gusty winds and dry conditions, combined with a heightened fire risk, are forecasted. PG&E executed this safety measure nine times in 2019. We continue to work, internally and in conjunction with stakeholders, to improve the PSPS program going forward with a goal of PSPS events that affect fewer customers and are of shorter duration.

We safely readied and operated four temporary microgrids to energize more than 4,800 customers during the October and November 2019 PSPS events in portions of Angwin, Calistoga, Grass Valley and Placerville. The temporary microgrid in Angwin featured a pre-installed interconnection hub designed to enable the rapid and efficient connection of temporary generation when PSPS events are forecasted. The three other sites were enabled by temporary generation sited and connected within PG&E substations.

Measuring Progress

The average time a PG&E customer was without power (SAIDI) was 148.8 customer-minutes, and the average number of power interruptions per customer (SAIFI) was 1.129, or just more than one outage per customer per year. Both results fell short of our target, largely due to weather and significant storms and heat waves at different points during the year. (PG&E’s PSPS events were not included in the 2019 reliability metrics.)

Electric Reliability Progress Footnote 1
2019 Target 2019 Actual
Average duration of outages per customer in minutes (SAIDI) 129.2 148.8
Average number of outages per customer (SAIFI) 1.089 1.129
  • 1. PG&E’s PSPS events exceeded our Major Event Day threshold and have been classified as excludable and were thus not included in the 2019 reliability metrics. Any future PSPS events are likely to exceed our Major Event Day threshold and be excluded; however, it is possible that we could have a smaller, more localized PSPS event that does not qualify as an excludable event and would be included in these reliability metrics.1

PG&E also tracks the number of customers who experience five or more sustained outages (CEMI-5), measured as a percentage of the total customers served, as well as the percentage of time that PG&E personnel are on site within 60 minutes after receiving a 911 call of a potential PG&E electric hazard. The increase for CEMI-5 in 2019 was largely driven by many storms throughout the year.

Electric System Progress
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Customers experiencing five or more sustained outages (CEMI-5) 1.71% 1.35% 2.10% 1.81% 2.61% 3.20%
Electric Emergency Response (percentage within 60 minutes) 94.1% 97.1% 98.3% 96.6% 97.9% 95.3%