SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With weather forecasts indicating the intensity of El Niño-driven storms
will be strong this winter in California, PG&E has been getting ready –
for the past 18 years.
The last major El Niño storm season in 1997-1998 dumped twice the normal
rainfall on San Francisco, created widespread flooding and caused power
outages impacting more than a million customers. PG&E has been preparing
for storms like those by practicing for extreme-weather events and
natural disasters; using advanced meteorology tools to forecast where
storm impacts will be most significant; and adding innovative technology
to its electrical grid.
New technology includes the use of storm outage prediction models, the
installation of automated equipment that “self-heals” the electric grid
as well as timely and accurate outage data from its network of more than
5 million electric SmartMeters™. In addition, the increasingly smart
grid means outages can be detected almost instantaneously and
restoration, in many cases, can be done automatically.
“A combination of preparedness, practice and technology has PG&E ready
to respond to winter storms. We put our focus on public safety and on
efficiently responding to customer outages,” said Barry Anderson, PG&E’s
vice president of Emergency Preparedness and Operations.
“With these advanced forecasting and outage-prediction tools, we can
work with our electric crews to make sure we have the right numbers of
people, vehicles and equipment in the right place at the right time as
storms hit,” said Mike Voss, PG&E’s principal meteorologist.
These advances include:
Emergency Preparation: PG&E now has an entire department, led
by Anderson, dedicated to preparing and responding to emergencies and
natural disasters. Through repeated exercises and thorough
self-reviews that seek constant improvement, the company’s Emergency
Preparedness and Operations team helps coordinate all-hands-on-deck
responses to events such as the 2014 Napa earthquake and the 2015
September wildfires, including working closely with first-responders.
Advanced Meteorology: New technology and storm outage
prediction modeling is helping PG&E pinpoint where problems might
occur as storms arrive and progress through PG&E’s service area.
SmartMeters™: SmartMeters play an important role in PG&E’s
response to power outages. The utility receives SmartMeter data within
seconds of an outage to help system operators quickly determine the
scope and level of response needed. They also help identify the
location of an outage to reduce the amount of time it takes for
restoration crews to arrive on scene.
Smart Grid: PG&E has installed advanced automated technology on
power lines throughout its service area. This technology can
automatically “self-heal” the grid by re-routing the flow of
electricity around a damaged power line and effectively restoring
power to the majority of impacted customers within minutes. These
systems have been installed on nearly 20 percent of PG&E’s electrical
distribution circuits and have helped the company avoid almost 89
million customer outage minutes since the program began in 2012.
New Distribution Control Centers: Two new state-of-the-art
electric distribution control centers help manage PG&E’s more than
140,000 circuit miles of distribution lines throughout Northern and
Central California. These facilities are the nerve centers of the grid
that delivers energy to individual homes and businesses. They are
equipped with systems that support not only today’s current smart grid
technology, but will also support future upgrades as well. The centers
in Fresno and Concord will be joined by a third facility in Rocklin
early in 2016.
PG&E’s winter storm preparations are not limited to its electric
operations. In advance of winter storm season, PG&E customers can call
to get one of the company’s Gas Service Representatives (GSRs) to do
pilot relights and gas-appliance safety checks. Call 1-800-743-5000 to
schedule an appointment.
PG&E’s Gas operations also has been preparing in advance and taking
measures to prevent the potential impact of flooding, erosion and
landslides exacerbated by El Niño-driven storms. And at the Diablo
Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County, the facility’s
severe-weather plan includes preparations for floods, mud slides and if
roads become impassable.
And just as the company prepares for emergencies, PG&E also urges its
customers to be ready for natural disasters. That includes creating a
family emergency plan and creating emergency kits for your home, your
office and your vehicle. PG&E offers emergency-preparation tips on
its website. The ready.gov
website offers additional preparedness tips.
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 20,000 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
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Matt Nauman, 415-973-5930