T&D World Magazine

PG&E Completes $90 Million Electrical Upgrade

PG&E has completed a project to rebuild a 42-mi electric transmission line that plays an important role in carrying renewable power to customers throughout its service area. Construction began on the project in 2011 and cost about $90 million to complete.

The transmission line connects PG&E’s Palermo substation in Butte County to the East Nicolaus substation in Sutter County. PG&E crews and contractors rebuilt the line, which mainly spans open range and farms and runs through Yuba County east of Marysville.

The East Nicholaus substation
The East Nicholaus substation in Sutter County was upgraded as part of the project. (Photos by Paul Moreno.)

“By rebuilding this electric transmission line and conducting substation upgrades, we are improving electric reliability and increasing overall capacity for our customers in Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties,” said Rich Pettingill, the project manager. “The project will also help us better utilize clean energy from nearby hydroelectric powerhouses.”

The 115-kV transmission line plays an important role in transmitting carbon free hydroelectric power produced in the nearby Sierra-Nevada Mountain Range. The new line’s capacity will be more than twice that of the previous line. This added capacity will improve electric reliability in the region by giving PG&E more flexibility in transmitting power.

The new line is supported by tubular steel poles, and runs parallel to another 115-kV line that PG&E plans to upgrade as well.

The project
The project spanned 42 miles, mostly open range and farmland.

PG&E coordinated construction activities with property owners along the route and worked closely with resource agencies to minimize impacts to sensitive biological resources. Work was planned around seasonal constraints for giant garter snakes, vernal pool fairy shrimp, nesting birds, and other protected species and habitats.
The substation and transmission line upgrades will help to build on the company’s strong reliability performance. In 2013, not only did the average duration of a service interruption for a PG&E customer fall to an all-time low, but customers also experienced the fewest service interruptions in company history. 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.

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