Installation of Powerline Safety Settings Essentially Complete in High-Fire Risk Areas Across 25,500 Distribution Line Miles in PG&E’s Service Area
Settings Automatically Turn Off Power Within One-Tenth of a Second or Less When a Hazard on a Powerline is Detected
PG&E Meteorology and Operations teams assess wildfire risk daily along more than 1,000 circuits in high-risk areas. When wildfire risk is elevated, the teams will enable EPSS to reduce the likelihood of potential wildfire ignitions and provide additional protection for customers.
Launched as a pilot in 2021, these enhanced safety settings reduced
Given the substantial ignition reduction benefits experienced last year,
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to make it safe for our customers and strive for our goal of zero utility-caused catastrophic wildfires,” said
Compared to Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), which are a last resort when severe weather conditions such as high winds are forecast, EPSS is effective when extremely dry fuels make powerline faults more likely to spark a fire. These enhanced safety settings do not require a proactive shutoff like PSPS events and instead, may result in outages in real time when a threat is detected to the electric system.
(Watch a video of ongoing testing of the safety settings at PG&E’s Applied Technology Services lab in
Enhanced Customer Support
Although these new safety settings make the electric system safer, having the power turn off quickly and automatically results in customer outages.
During the 2021 pilot, after optimizing the equipment and improving the efficiency of restoration processes, the average customer outage length on EPSS-enabled circuits decreased by 40%. Additional improvements to the program in 2022 will enable a more surgical approach to minimize the frequency and duration of outages and reduce the number of customers impacted. That includes refining operational flexibility during the time-periods of potential wildfire risk when it comes to enabling the enhanced safety settings.
- Increased funding and expansion of eligibility for the Generator Rebate Program, which is for customers who rely on well water, as well as for customers in our Medical Baseline Program and certain small businesses.
- Removal of the low-income requirements for the Portable Battery Program, available for eligible customers in our Medical Baseline Program who live in high fire-threat areas.
- The expansion of the Backup Power Transfer Meter, now being offered to all customers on EPSS-enabled circuits.
For more information, please visit pge.com/epss.
Long-Term Action to Reduce Wildfire Risk
The enhanced safety settings are just one of the many steps
- Beginning to underground 10,000 miles of powerlines to improve the safety and reliability of our service.
- Exceeding state vegetation standards to prevent trees from falling into powerlines.
- Continuing to install stronger poles and powerlines to make the electric grid safer and more resilient.
- Reducing the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) with grid updates and weather forecasting improvements that allow us to surgically target shutoffs.
- Installing microgrids that use generators to keep the electricity on during wildfire safety outages.