PG&ECorporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2022

See Our Climate Goals

Wildfire Safety

Our Approach

See Our Progress on Wildfire Safety We have a responsibility to our customers to improve the safety of our system. Our Community Wildfire Safety Program (CWSP) includes short-, medium- and long-term plans to reduce wildfire risk and keep our customers and communities safe. Focus areas include:

  • Supporting customers and communities before, during, and after PSPS events by providing more resources and working year-round and nonstop to improve our PSPS program.
  • Meeting and exceeding state vegetation standards with our Enhanced Vegetation Management Program to manage trees and other vegetation located near power lines that could cause a wildfire or power outage.
  • Continuing to build a safer and more resilient system by hardening lines and installing sectionalizing devices that help to reduce the size of PSPS events.
  • Testing and using new tools and technologies to pinpoint how to best prevent and respond to the risk of wildfires.

We also unveiled two major initiatives in 2021: Our plan to underground 10,000 miles of distribution powerlines in coming years and our use of Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS) to further reduce the risk of wildfires.

2021 Milestones

Community Wildfire Safety Program

PG&E employee in a bucket truck working on a utility pole criss-crossed with cablesOur wildfire safety program is evolving each year to reflect lessons learned and demonstrate progress on key initiatives. In 2021, that included:

  • Installing more than 300 sectionalizing devices able to limit the size of outages so fewer communities are without power during times of highest wildfire threat. That topped our goal of installing 279 devices.
  • Hardening 211 distribution circuit miles to increase system resiliency, surpassing the goal of 180 miles.
  • Meeting and exceeding state vegetation and safety standards across nearly 2,000 miles to manage vegetation near power lines that could cause a wildfire or power outage.
  • Installing microgrids that use generators to keep the electricity on during PSPS events. We are also piloting clean energy generator solutions.
  • Utilizing additional state-of-the-art weather tools, including weather stations and high-definition cameras, to improve extreme weather forecasting that will help better predict and target where and when PSPS events are necessary. In 2021, we installed and operationalized an additional 308 weather stations and 153 high-definition cameras.
  • Expanding our Wildfire Safety Operations Center to the Hazard Awareness and Warning Center to both coordinate wildfire prevention and response and ensure readiness for a variety of potential natural disasters and emergencies.
  • Inspecting all lines and structures in Tier 3 areas and one-third of lines and structures in Tier 2 areas on the CPUC Fire-Threat Map to help reduce wildfire risks caused by equipment issues.

Undergrounding 10,000 Miles of Powerlines

Heavy machinery cutting a trench and underground electric cablesPG&E is undertaking a major new initiative to underground approximately 10,000 miles of powerlines in high fire risk areas. This commitment represents the largest effort in the United States to underground powerlines to reduce wildfire risk.

Benefits are expected to include:

  • Safety by reducing the risk of wildfires.
  • Dependability by reducing the need for PSPS and EPSS outages and improving service reliability.
  • Resilience to a changing climate.
  • Sustainability by saving trees and beautifying our hometowns.

We plan to underground approximately 3,600 miles between 2022 and 2026 as the work scales from 175 targeted miles in 2022 up to 1,200 miles in 2026. The increased scope, gained efficiencies, and integrated best practices are projected to decrease the cost per mile for undergrounding from $3.75 million per mile in 2022 to $2.5 million per mile in 2026.

Launch of EPSS Program

Starting in July 2021, to help prevent wildfires during the hot and dry season, we started adjusting the sensitivity settings on some of our circuits in high fire threat areas to turn off power quickly and automatically, if the system detects a problem.

We saw immediate impacts. With the new safety measures in place in 2021, CPUC-reportable ignitions were down approximately 40% across 800 circuits (~25,000 miles) traversing high fire threat districts versus the past three-year average and down approximately 80% on the 169 EPSS-enabled circuits (~11,000 miles) versus the past three-year average. Footnote 1

  • 1. Refers to the three-year average for the period of July 28 through October 20.1

For 2022, we have enabled the EPSS setting on all circuits in high fire risk areas.

PSPS Program

PG&E employee looking at a map taped to the side of a truckAs we work to build the electric system of the future with efforts like undergrounding and system hardening, our use of PSPS as a measure of last resort is expected to decline. In 2021, we worked to make our PSPS program more targeted and focused:

  • There were five PSPS events affecting 80,400 customers, compared to six events and 653,000 customers in 2020 and seven events affecting 2 million customers in 2019.
  • The average outage duration was 31 hours, down from 35 hours in 2020 and 43 hours in 2019.
  • The average restoration time was 12 hours versus 17 hours in 2019.

Since its inception in late 2017, the PSPS program has become more targeted because we have developed more granular risk models, including adding consideration of vegetation management and maintenance tag statuses for scoping PSPS events. We have also installed sectionalizers for more strategic deenergizations of circuits and transmission lines.

We also continued our focus on helping customers and communities before, during, and after PSPS events.

Measuring Progress

The average time a PG&E customer was without power (SAIDI) was 218.7 customer-minutes, and the average number of power interruptions per customer (SAIFI) was 1.318, or just more than one outage per customer per year. Both results fell short of our target due to a variety of factors, including heat-related outages experienced in the second half of the year, and our strategy to disable reclosers and to utilize EPSS in high-fire-threat areas to help prevent wildfires.

Electric Reliability Progress Footnote 1
2019 2020 2021
Average duration of outages per customer in minutes (SAIDI) Footnote 2 148.8 153.2 218.7
Average number of outages per customer (SAIFI) 1.129 1.179 1.318
  • 1. Nearly all 2021 PSPS outages exceeded the Major Event Day threshold and were not included in the 2021 reliability metrics.1
  • 2. System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) is the amount of time the average customer experiences a sustained outage (being without power for more than five minutes) each year. System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) is the number of times the average customer experiences a sustained outage each year.2

PG&E also works to reduce the number of customers who experience five or more sustained outages, measured as a percentage of the total customers served, through our outage review team process which works to quickly identify and address local reliability challenges. Nevertheless, with a result of 4.13%, we fell short of our 2.63% target due to many of the same factors impacting SAIDI and SAIFI. We exceeded our target for the percentage of time that PG&E personnel were on site within 60 minutes after receiving a 911 call of a potential PG&E electric hazard—achieving 97.2% relative to our target of 96.6%.

Electric System Progress
2019 2020 2021
Customers experiencing five or more sustained outages (CEMI-5) 3.20% 3.56% 4.13%
Electric Emergency Response (percentage within 60 minutes) 95.3% 97.2% 97.2%