The Coast News Group
In addition to safety shutoffs and wildfire mitigation programs, advanced clean technology is a component of SDG&E's resiliency efforts.
In response to the price hikes, California’s Democratic U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, have called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to step in. File photo

SDG&E announces wildfire mitigation advancements before fire season begins

REGION — As the region prepares for this year’s wildfire season, San Diego Gas & Electric today unveiled several wildfire mitigation and resiliency advancements.

As a result of this year’s resiliency efforts like strategic undergrounding and an expanded generator grant program, SDG&E estimates that nearly 11,000 additional customers could benefit from reduced Public Safety Power Shutoff impact, depending on the weather events experienced this year.

“Nothing is more important than the continued safety and well-being of the communities we serve, as well as the preservation of our environment,” said Caroline Winn, CEO for SDG&E. “We are working tirelessly to integrate new, innovative technologies to significantly decrease the PSPS impacts experienced by our customers and reduce utility-related wildfire risk, while also forging a path towards a more sustainable future.”

A wildfire risk analysis report published this year by the California Public Utilities Commission found that the shutoffs carried out by SDG&E between Oct. 10 and Nov. 1, 2019, possibly prevented utility-related wildfires which could have had the potential to affect up to 34,471 people, damage 35,112 buildings and burn approximately 327,277 acres.

The analysis examined 13 damage incidents identified by SDG&E using Technosylva’s Wildfire Analyst software, which provides a real-time analysis of wildfire behavior and a model simulation of potential wildfires based on multiple factors, including local topographic characteristics, weather factors, surface fuel types and vegetation moisture.

In addition to safety shutoffs and wildfire mitigation programs, advanced clean technology is a component of SDG&E’s resiliency efforts, including a flow battery that will be integrated into the Cameron Corners microgrid to keep critical facilities and customers energized during a power shutoff.

The flow battery is intended to help store clean energy produced by local solar panels to help limit emissions and build greater regional resiliency.

SDG&E is also piloting a mobile power station, a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a 500kW set of lithium-ion batteries intended to help keep critical customers energized during a power shutoff. It will include charging ports for clean energy vehicles.

Additional measures the company revealed Tuesday include a private communications network, enhanced infrastructure hardening, virtual reality training, an update of its weather network, a generator program expansion, and expanded community partnerships with 2-1-1 San Diego and 2-1-1 Orange County, the American Red Cross, and the Inter-Tribal Long Term Recovery Foundation,