Noticing Fewer Power Outages?
Tuolumne County, CA - PG&E set a company record that has helped keep customers seeing the light longer. The company says customers spent less time in the dark in 2012 than any other year in the company's history. Also, they say the number of outages was the second lowest on record, just behind 2011.
Last December, you may have noticed low flying helicopters circling the Mother Lode. That was PG&E doing infrared infrastructure checks of electrical line equipment in the area. Company Officials say investment in technology and prevention like that is helping to keep the lights on.
Spokesperson Nicole Liebelt says "Tuolumne County was one of the counties that we piloted our infrared technology to identify trouble spots, so that was one way we were able to focus on rural areas. We also have a rural circuit upgrade program where we installed more than five thousand fuses and five hundred re-closers on more than six hundred worst performing rural circuits. What that helped us to do was to isolate service interruptions and to minimize impact on customers."
PG&E power reliability statistics show the average customer was without power for 131.5 minutes in 2012, down from 157 minutes in 2010 and 181 minutes in 2008. Also, the frequency of power interruptions per customer in 2012 was 1.128 compared to 1.3 in 2008.
The company attributes these improvements in dependability to ongoing investments in several key projects:
Targeted Circuit Program. In 2012, PG&E crews targeted 74 distribution circuits and eight transmission circuits based on their history of outages. Crews strengthened the circuits and used infrared technology to identify potential trouble spots so that stressed equipment could be repaired or replaced before it failed. By the end of 2013, PG&E will have upgraded more than 330 circuits in five years.
- Intelligent Switches. Utility workers installed automated "intelligent" switches on 122 circuits in 2012. This Smart Grid technology dramatically reduces the amount of time it takes to restore power to customers. Instead of waiting for a crew to arrive on scene to restore circuits manually, the new devices do it automatically, often within five minutes. By the end of 2013, PG&E will have automated 400 circuits with this technology.
- Substation Upgrades. Technicians have replaced and upgraded 138 substation transformers since 2010 to handle an increase in demand, to improve equipment performance or to maintain or restore service when electricity needs to be rerouted.
- Vegetation Management Reliability Program. Crews worked to keep electric lines free from trees and brush. Last year, crews either pruned or removed more than 26,500 trees that could have potentially caused a power outage. Since 2007, this program has reduced vegetation-related outages by 44 percent.
Written by Tracey Petersen
During heat or snow, overburdened electric cables, transformers, and other electrical equipment can fail. Be safe, never touch a downed powerline or electrical equipment. For our yellow page listings of local power providers click here.