Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has announced the successful completion of its Cornerstone Project—an initiative that helped the utility achieve record electric reliability delivered to its customers in 2013. This multi-year effort was created to improve electric service for customers by focusing on reducing both the frequency and duration of customer outages.
"The technology and the upgrades we have invested in allow us to deliver the safe, reliable and affordable service our customers expect and deserve," said Patrick Hogan, vice president of Asset Management, Electric Operations for PG&E. "While we are proud of the reliability improvements that the Cornerstone program achieved, we won't stop working to improve service for all our customers."
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 utilizing 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.
PG&E continues to make significant progress in safely delivering reliable service that benefits homes and businesses throughout Northern and Central California. In 2013, not only did customers experience the fewest service interruptions in company history, but the average length of an outage for a PG&E customer fell to an all-time low. Customers have seen a 40 percent improvement in the average duration of a service disruption and a 27 percent improvement in the number of customer interruptions since 2006. The Cornerstone program was a key component in this performance.
The company is focused on continuous improvement in order to ensure that its customers receive the safest, most reliable and affordable service possible. In its 2014 rate case, PG&E has applied to carry on these successful reliability improvement programs on behalf of all its customers.