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The Hard Work of Hardening: PG&E Makes the Grid More Resilient and Resistant to Wildfire Risk in High Fire-Threat Areas

08/12/2020

Company is on Target as Installation of Stronger Poles, Thicker Power Lines Reach Half-Way Point for 2020

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Mile-by-mile, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is transforming its electric system in high fire-threat areas to make it more resilient and resistant to wildfires. Known as system hardening, this work will benefit customers directly in terms of improved reliability and increased safety.

The ongoing work will happen every day over the next several years as 7,100 miles of PG&E’s distribution circuits are hardened. That’s nearly the distance from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. PG&E crews and contractors will remove existing poles and install stronger poles, often made of composite materials. Thin, bare power lines are being are replaced with thicker, insulated lines that are more resistant to weather, wind and broken branches. And, in some locations, the electric infrastructure is being buried underground, completely avoiding issues with wind and trees.

“The steps PG&E is taking to address the growing wildfire threat in our state is unlike any effort in the company’s history. While there is no single solution, both immediate actions to minimize wildfire risks today, as well as longer-term efforts to rebuild our electric system for the future are necessary and underway,” said Matt Pender, PG&E’s director of the Community Wildfire Safety Program. “We will continue until these hardening upgrades are complete for both the safety and reliability of our customers and communities facing the highest risk of wildfire.”

This is heavy construction work that requires extensive advanced planning, customer engagement in various languages and then the use of trucks, cranes and bulldozers to get the job done. Through late July, more than half of the hardening work planned for this year has been completed.

That includes:

  • In Mt. Diablo State Park (in Contra Costa and Alameda counties), PG&E recently completed a project that included more than six miles of overhead hardening work and the replacement of 112 poles.
  • On a project spanning from Oakland to Orinda (also in Alameda and Contra Costa counties), PG&E successfully replaced 2.8 miles of line and 80 poles.
  • In Pollock Pines (in El Dorado County), a project is currently underway that will replace 1,025 poles and 38 miles of wire on one circuit. Nearly three miles of power line will be buried underground as part of the overall circuit work. This work will continue throughout the year.

In total, through late July, PG&E has hardened 138 miles and remains on track to reinforce infrastructure across 241 miles this year. That follows the 171 miles that were hardened in 2019, which surpassed the company’s target of 150 miles last year.

System hardening is just one small slice of the comprehensive work being done as part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, which includes doing more work to keep trees away from power lines, adding high-definition cameras and weather stations to provide more detailed real-time information on conditions and adding microgrids that will be able to provide temporary power when and where needed.

For more information on PG&E’s wildfire mitigations and efforts to reduce the impacts of PSPS events, please visit pge.com/wildfiresafety.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco with more than 23,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, please visit pge.com and pge.com/news.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes forward-looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about the beliefs, expectations, estimates, future plans and strategies of PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, including but not limited to statements regarding PG&E’s plans to harden its electric system over the next several years and its Community Wildfire Safety Program. These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions, which management believes are reasonable, and on information currently available to management, but are necessarily subject to various risks and uncertainties. In addition to the risk that these assumptions prove to be inaccurate, factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements include factors disclosed in PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s joint Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, their joint Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020, and their subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Additional factors include, but are not limited to, those associated with the Chapter 11 cases of PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company that commenced on January 29, 2019. PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether due to new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by law.

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Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

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