PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2021

COVID-19 Response

Public Safety

PG&E’s commitment to public safety ranges from comprehensive programs to train our workforce to investments in our gas and electric infrastructure to health precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increased wildfire threat our state faces, PG&E is also expanding our efforts to reduce wildfire risks and keep our customers and communities safe. We continue to prioritize safety, and the necessary steps and actions that must be taken to make the energy system safer.

Our Approach

Embedding Safety in Our Operations

Two workers operating a drone in the mountains Through our Workforce Safety Strategy, many factors come into play when making sure our operations are safe, including training, daily safety tailboards, updates to safety protocols and programs, safety observers in the field and a robust serious injury and fatality program that evaluates the root causes of accidents and near misses and provides corrective actions to prevent them from happening again.

We take a multifaceted approach—including strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols—to protect the safety of the public through our operations:

  • Electric Operations: PG&E’s safety efforts in our electric operations can be seen in our efforts to harden our infrastructure, modernize the grid and execute the Community Wildfire Safety Program to continue to mitigate the risk of our equipment igniting fires.
  • Gas Operations: With a focus on continuous improvement, PG&E works toward the goal of making our natural gas system the safest and most reliable in the nation. We also maintain a steadfast commitment to achieve and maintain best-in-class asset management certifications, meeting all compliance standards, and maintaining rigorous pipeline safety management systems.
  • Power Generation: PG&E remains focused on safely operating the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and our natural gas-fired generation facilities. We also continue to inspect and maintain our hydroelectric system according to strict safety guidelines and to enhance public safety outreach in communities around our facilities.

Community Wildfire Safety Program

The fire season in California is starting earlier and ending later due to climate change and fires are becoming larger and spreading faster. Our wildfire safety program is evolving each year to reflect lessons learned and incorporate new information. Specific actions we are taking include:

  • Installing 250 sectionalizing devices able to limit the size of outages so fewer communities are without power during times of highest wildfire threat.
  • Hardening 180 distribution circuit miles to increase system resiliency.
  • Meeting and exceeding state vegetation and safety standards across 1,800 miles to manage vegetation near power lines that could cause a wildfire or power outage.
  • Installing switches to redirect power and keep communities energized.
  • Installing microgrids that use generators to keep the electricity on during PSPS events.
  • 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.
  • Monitoring conditions in real-time from our Wildfire Safety Operations Center to coordinate wildfire prevention and response.
  • 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.

Gas Safety

It is our fundamental responsibility to design, build, maintain and operate our gas system to keep customers and communities safe. Our 2021 Gas Safety Plan (PDF) demonstrates PG&E’s commitment and progress in implementing processes, programs and procedures to achieve our vision to become the safest and most reliable natural gas utility in the nation.

PG&E continues to invest in the safety and reliability of our gas transmission pipeline system. From 2011 to 2020, PG&E has achieved the following results:

  • Validated safe operating pressure by strength-testing 1,534 miles of gas pipeline.
  • Replaced 272 miles of gas transmission pipeline.
  • Automated 381 valves, enabling automatic or remote-control shutoff of gas in an emergency.
  • Retrofitted 1,780 miles of gas transmission lines to accommodate in-line inspection tools, or “smart pigs,” which are used to inspect the condition of pipelines using sophisticated technology.

During this timeframe, we have also installed 3,532 SCADA visibility and control points on the gas transmission system and 4,147 SCADA visibility and control points on the gas distribution system to monitor pressure and flow.

Our 2021 Gas Safety Plan outlines the work we accomplished in 2020 and consists of several aspects that are new since the 2020 plan, which include the following:

  • Details on PG&E’s 2025 Workforce Safety Strategy.
  • How PG&E adapted to COVID-19 impacts by ensuring coworkers were equipped with the necessary ergonomic equipment and implementing best practices for team members in the field.
  • How a new data management organization will improve PG&E’s ability to make data-driven decisions to reduce risk within our system.

While we have made progress in key safety areas, we realize there is more to do to demonstrate our commitment and progress towards gas safety excellence.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

To prepare for major weather events and natural disasters—earthquakes, wildfires, floods, heavy winds and blizzards—PG&E relies upon our enterprise-wide Emergency Preparedness and Response organization through which we continually review and strengthen our catastrophic emergency response plans. This ensures that we have:

  • Clearly defined organizational structures, roles and responsibilities,
  • Restoration priorities that incorporate community needs to help customers get back to normal,
  • Effective logistics plans that support restoration needs,
  • Technology that is ready and available to support our response,
  • Employees who are trained and fully understand their emergency roles, and
  • Employees who are personally prepared for emergencies and ready to respond at home and at work.

2020 Milestones

PG&E works year-round to prepare for extreme weather events through advance planning, new initiatives and the incorporation of state-of-the-art technologies.

Highlights from 2020 include:

  • Expanding the Safety Action Center, a dedicated safety webpage featuring helpful information about wildfire risks and what customers can do to keep their home, family or business safe, including tips on how to create an emergency plan, emergency preparedness guides and videos.
  • Urging customers to update their contact information, as part of a campaign encouraging customers to have a plan for the growing threat of climate-driven extreme weather and wildfires. PG&E is asking customers to update their mobile numbers, email addresses and other contact information so PG&E can communicate with them through important wildfire safety alerts. The effort included earned and social media.
  • Holding a large-scale earthquake exercise, where our response to a simulated 7.0 earthquake in the East Bay was tested. In addition to hundreds of PG&E coworkers, the drill included participants or observers from the Edison Electric Institute, the California Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bay Area Rapid Transit, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Independent System Operator and the Department of Energy.
  • Utilizing our new Emergency Response Center in Vacaville. Opened in 2019, the 30,000-square-foot facility has redundant utility power, backup generator power and backup and telecom infrastructure. To improve earthquake structural resilience, the facility was constructed to a 1.5 Importance Factor, which is 50% above the California commercial building standard. It contains emergency operations for electric, gas and energy procurement, and hosted the 2020 earthquake exercise.

First Responder Collaboration and Assistance

In an emergency situation, our first priority is to protect the health and welfare of the public. We do that by coordinating and communicating with police, fire and other officials in an effort to keep the public and first responders safe. Our emergency response plan—which is developed, shared and tested with emergency officials—defines clear lines of responsibility for PG&E and emergency personnel. PG&E also maintains a secure First Responder website, where emergency officials can access training materials and infrastructure information and maps.

In 2020, PG&E hosted 96 training workshops to better prepare firefighters, police, public works officials and other authorities to respond to emergencies involving electricity and natural gas. We also met with 367 local fire entities to address contingency planning for gas-related events.

Community Outreach and Partnerships

We regularly work with community partners to better prepare for emergencies. Examples from 2020 include:

  • Awarded $2.3 million in wildfire prevention grants to local Fire Safe Councils. The grants marked the seventh year PG&E partnered with local California Fire Safe Councils and other non-profit partners to fund shovel-ready projects, with funds going to 28 counties for 41 projects to help keep communities safe. The funds paid for fuel reduction, emergency access and defensible space projects, as well as chipper days in local communities.
  • Expanded a partnership with the California Fire Foundation by funding a $1.2 million Wildfire Safety and Preparedness grant. Over this three-year collaboration, the funding has enabled fire equipment purchases, local fire education programs, and defensible space and vegetation management efforts. The program also provided fire safety messaging targeting underserved communities in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hmong and Vietnamese and created a statewide fire safety awareness campaign through television, radio, digital and outdoor advertisements.

Public Safety Awareness

Educating the public about working safely around our systems and facilities, and on how to stay safe during emergencies, remains a key element of our public safety strategy. Examples include:

  • Urging customers and contractors to call 811 before digging. A call to 811 is the best safeguard and the first line of defense to preventing strikes on underground utility lines. Callers are connected to their local 811 center that notifies the appropriate utility of their intent to dig. That utility operator sends a specially trained and qualified technician to the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint.
  • Emphasizing safety around downed power lines by providing safety tips online and through an extensive public advertising campaign. PG&E also urged customers to have a storm preparation plan and provided instructions on how to create an emergency supply kit.
  • Maintaining a standalone cloud-based website specifically for emergencies. This includes PSPS content and tools for easier usability for customers.
  • Promoting public safety around PG&E waterways, including dam safety and encouraging customers to take extra precautions around hydroelectric facilities and dams, where water flows can change rapidly.
  • Taking a stand against scams. As part of the Utilities United Against Scams, a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian energy companies, PG&E advised customers on how to protect themselves against potential scammers.

Cyber and Physical Security

PG&E operates infrastructure that has been deemed critical to our national and economic security. As such, we are firmly committed to working with other gas and electric providers, other essential industries, and government officials to develop and implement state-of-the-art security strategies and best practices.

PG&E’s Cybersecurity and Corporate Security organizations demonstrate our commitment to addressing evolving threats and complex risks. We seek to continually improve our services through strategic deployment of our resources, standardizing security practices and policies, and reinforcing and promoting security awareness across the enterprise. Our Cybersecurity organization is especially proficient in the areas of detecting and responding to cybersecurity threats and attacks. To test and refine our ability to respond to threat scenarios, we hold an enterprise-wide training exercise each fall and participate in the national GridEx cyber exercise every other year.

As PG&E’s technological footprint expands, the need to protect our people, assets and information from attacks becomes even more essential. We have made investments in key areas to modernize the security infrastructure and to build service capability, providing the security team with the tools they need to manage challenges to our critical infrastructure. As part of this commitment, PG&E participates in the Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program (CRISP), which is a threat monitoring and intelligence sharing program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Once risks are identified and prioritized, we develop mitigation plans to protect the enterprise and reduce risk. The approach includes continually evolving our capabilities to address tactics used by our adversaries amid a changing technology landscape. PG&E has around-the-clock centralized security monitoring operations for threat detection, situational awareness, incident management and emergency response to proactively defend PG&E from both cyber and physical threats.

Measuring Progress

PG&E tracks our public safety performance via a set of public safety metrics with the aim of continuous improvement.

In 2020, customer welfare—prioritizing public and workforce safety—represented 75% of management’s annual at-risk performance-based pay, p.54–57 (PDF) . Financial stability was weighted at 25%. This breakdown was continued in 2021.