PG&E completes electric distribution reliability project

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Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) completed a multi-year electric reliability effort to improve electric service for customers by focusing on reducing both the frequency and duration of customer outages.

In 2010, PG&E was authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission to invest $357 million to improve electric distribution system reliability through a three-year program that leveraged existing infrastructure to minimize costs and fully realize reliability benefits for customers. The program contributed to improved electrical service by focusing on three areas:

·      Installed Intelligent Switches on More than 500 Electrical Circuits: Through December 2013, more than 230,000 customer interruptions have been avoided by using this smart grid technology. In the event of an outage, instead of waiting for a crew to arrive on scene to restore circuits manually, the new devices do it automatically, often within minutes. Utility workers installed automated "intelligent" switches on almost 400 circuits last year; in total, more than 500 circuits have been enabled with this advanced "self-healing" technology.

·      Upgraded Rural Circuits: PG&E installed more than 5,000 sets of fuses and 500 line reclosers on more than 440 of the worst-performing rural circuits to isolate service interruptions and minimize their impact on customers. The installation of this equipment has resulted in a 33 percent reduction in the number of customers experiencing sustained outages from 2010 performance levels.

·      Enhanced Substations and Circuit Interconnectivity. Technicians replaced and upgraded substation equipment to improve operational flexibility and added circuit capacity to maintain or restore service when electricity needs to be rerouted in the event of an outage. These upgrades also had the benefit of handling an increase in demand during heavy loading conditions, such as hot summer days.

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