PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2021

COVID-19 Response

Electric Operations

Enhancing and strengthening our infrastructure, including making substantial investments to upgrade the electric grid and our operations, is central to our mission to provide safe and reliable energy.

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

As we build a smarter grid designed to incorporate new energy technologies and to give our customers increased flexibility, choice and value, PG&E gains greater visibility to improve operational performance and more effectively integrate renewable energy with conventional sources.

Our Approach

PG&E employee climbing utility pole High winds can cause tree branches and debris to contact energized electric lines, damage our equipment and cause a wildfire. California continues to experience an increase in wildfire risk and a longer wildfire season. Today, nearly one-third of the electric lines that provide our customers with power are now in High Fire-Threat District (HFTD) areas, as designated by the CPUC.

The Fire-Threat Map identifies areas across California that have the highest likelihood of a wildfire impacting people and property, and where additional action may be necessary to reduce wildfire risk:

  • Tier 3 areas are at extreme risk for wildfire
  • Tier 2 areas are at elevated risk for wildfire
  • Zone 1 Tier 1 High Hazard Zones are areas with high numbers of dead and dying trees

We all need to work 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 and mitigate service interruptions under our Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Program. We all rely on electricity every day, and we will continue to work with our customers on solutions that minimize risks to our infrastructure during times of high fire-threat.

For the safety of our customers and communities, we may need to turn off power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires. This is called a PSPS and it continues to be a necessary tool as a last resort. While PG&E is determined to keep our customers safe from wildfires and reduce the impact of PSPS events, the ongoing drought and the conditions will determine the number of times we will need to shut off power, without compromising safety.

We have a responsibility to our customers to quickly 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.

See Our Progress by County

Our wildfire safety program is evolving each year to reflect lessons learned and demonstrate progress on key initiatives:

  • 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.

2020 Milestones

In 2020, we worked to make our PSPS program more targeted and focused. We achieved:

  • 55% fewer customers impacted on average compared to 2019, exceeding our 33% goal;
  • Restoration of 96% of impacted customers within 12 daylight hours; and
  • More precise weather forecasting to determine the need for PSPS.

We did this by using better weather monitoring data and technology that allows us to make more granular decisions, installing more than 600 sectionalizing devices to shut off power to smaller groups of customers and installing microgrids and temporary generation to keep facilities energized in key locations.

We are also continuing to evolve and improve to keep our customers safe and reduce the impacts of PSPS events. There is no single solution to reducing the risk of wildfires. That is why we are:

  • Continuing to upgrade the electric grid by hardening power lines to reduce wildfire risks.
  • Installing sectionalizing devices to narrow the scope of PSPS events so fewer customers are without power.
  • Piloting new technologies that detect threats to the electric grid and rapidly reduce or shut off power, thus reducing the need for larger PSPS events.
  • Installing microgrids that use generators to keep the electricity on during PSPS events.

Measuring Progress

The average time a PG&E customer was without power (SAIDI) was 153.2 customer-minutes, and the average number of power interruptions per customer (SAIFI) was 1.179, 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 in high-fire-threat areas to help prevent wildfires.

Electric Reliability Progress Footnote 1
2020 Target 2020 Actual
Average duration of outages per customer in minutes (SAIDI) 147.6 153.2
Average number of outages per customer (SAIFI) 1.136 1.179
  • 1. Almost all of the 2020 PSPS outages exceeded the Major Event Day threshold and were not included in the 2020 reliability metrics.1

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; however, with a result of 3.56%, we fell short of our 3.12% 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 96.5%.

Electric System Progress
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Customers experiencing five or more sustained outages (CEMI-5) 1.71% 1.35% 2.10% 1.81% 2.61% 3.20% 3.56%
Electric Emergency Response (percentage within 60 minutes) 94.1% 97.1% 98.3% 96.6% 97.9% 95.3% 97.2%