MOUNTAIN AREA — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) said Friday the utility remains focused and engaged on “essential projects to provide continuity of service during this critical time and for the safety of its customers and communities.”
These essential projects, according to a press release issued by PG&E, involve “maintaining, repairing and upgrading the safety and reliability of its gas and electric infrastructure as well as key wildfire mitigation as the state and nation continue battling the COVID-19 virus.”
California’s shelter-at-home order currently remains in effect for all 40 million Californians and has been extended in key areas until May 1. Importantly, the order exempts essential workers in critical infrastructure sectors, including energy companies like PG&E. This includes individuals performing any work necessary to the operation and maintenance of gas and electrical systems and services, including those that support other essential services.
Defining Essential Electric Work
PG&E will continue performing electric work consistent with the Governor’s priorities for essential services and for the safety of our customers and communities including:
- Emergency response to restore electric service;
- Work to further the preparedness for Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events as directed by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, CAL FIRE and the California Public Utilities Commission;
- Enhanced and routine vegetation management;
- Critical maintenance;
- Work associated with our Wildfire Mitigation Plan.
PG&E electric crews also will proceed with new business work to support residential projects with residents ready to move in; new business projects related to medical facilities, agencies, labs, manufacturers or businesses supporting COVID-19 response; new business projects in support of homeless shelters, elder-care facilities, grocery stores and restaurants providing take-out service.
Limiting Planned Outages
As PG&E continues with critical and essential safety and maintenance projects, customer impacts will be minimized to the extent possible. Where service interruptions are required to safely complete critical and essential work, PG&E will work to limit the number and duration of planned outages.
“We understand the impacts of a service interruption given the current shelter-at-home orders for our communities, and the potential disruption or hardship these outages may cause,” said Laurie Giammona, PG&E’s chief customer officer and its senior vice president of customer care. “We appreciate our customers’ patience and support for our crews as we conduct our essential safety and maintenance work.”
Projects outside of system safety and wildfire mitigation work are being reviewed to determine whether they fit PG&E’s definition of critical and essential work and to understand how the work will impact customers.
First, the projects are reviewed to determine whether a portion of or all of the work can be safely performed energized. If working via energized methods is not possible, methods to reduce the impact of the planned outages are evaluated, including potentially reducing the duration of the planned outages, performing some of this work during night-time hours or installing temporary generation, which limits the outage duration to the time needed to transfer customers between the PG&E source and the temporary generation at the start and end of the job.
Defining Essential Gas Work
PG&E’s Gas Operations likewise will continue conducting essential work to support its ongoing commitment to safely and reliably deliver natural gas to customers. Some examples include:
- Emergency response to restore gas service;
- Service restoration and relights;
- Regulatory code compliance work including safety surveys and patrols of gas pipelines, maintenance essential to the safe operation of the system, and fulfilling 811 requests to locate and mark PG&E infrastructure;
- New customer connections and Work Requested by Others (WRO); and Butte County Rebuild work.
‘Upholding Our Crucial Mission’
“Our job at PG&E remains the same – to be there for our customers and to uphold our crucial mission of providing reliable gas and electric service while also keeping our customers and our employees safe,” said Andy Vesey, PG&E Utility CEO and president.
“Given the extraordinary COVID-19 situation, safe, consistent gas and electric service are more important today than ever before. Our crews remain in the field keeping our gas and electric service functioning safely and smoothly, along with all restoration and emergency work. We will adjust our service priorities and work as needed to meet this commitment,” Vesey added.
Those adjustments include how PG&E has changed some of its work protocols to help safeguard the health and safety of our workers and the general public, as well as to provide continuity of service during this critical time. PG&E employees have been given guidance on maintaining social distance and wearing protective equipment.
Certain work outside the scope of essential work is being delayed in order to maintain the reserve workforce and effectiveness that will be necessary to maintain reliable service for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. This includes work that can either be delayed for a short period or does not have an immediate impact on system safety or reliability. These efforts may cause delays in meeting some work plan targets and compliance obligations.
This situation is evolving, and we will continue to adjust our work as necessary to deliver safe, reliable energy and to keep our customers, communities, and employees safe. Please visit www.pge.com/covid19 for more details and to see how the company is supporting its customers and employees.