300x200 Earthquake Drill 2020 300x200

PG&E Conducts Earthquake Exercise at New Emergency Operations Facility

Feb. 13, 2020
The emergency exercise simulated a magnitude 7.0 earthquake with the epicenter near Oakland, aftershocks in the East Bay Area.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) conducted a large-scale earthquake exercise on Jan. 23, at its new emergency operations center in Vacaville.

Hundreds of PG&E employees at that location, and elsewhere across the service area, took part in the emergency exercise that simulated a magnitude 7.0 earthquake with the epicenter near Oakland and subsequent aftershocks in the East Bay Area.

The company was joined by representatives of several agencies, as either observers or participants, including the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the California Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and the Department of Energy (DOE).

The simulated quake caused massive damage throughout the nine-county Bay Area — about 1.5 million PG&E electric customers and about 200,000 gas customers lost service. Assessments began shortly after the quake but the company told customers that full restoration could take weeks, even with a large influx of mutual-aid and contract crews.

Under the direction of the emergency operations center commander, PG&E employees from nearly every organization, from gas and electric operations to corporate security and customer care, took part in the exercise.

"We live in an earthquake country and seismologists say that the Big One is not a matter of if, but when. The PG&E has a plan and we practiced executing that plan in a real-world scenario. It's vitally important that our customers are prepared too — by having individual and family emergency plans and go bags — and making sure the PG&E has your updated contact information," said Mark Quinlan, senior director of emergency preparedness and response for the PG&E.

The 30,000-sq ft PG&E Vacaville Emergency Response Center opened in 2019. A purpose-built critical facility, it has redundant utility power, backup generator power, and backup and telecom infrastructure. To improve earthquake structural resilience, the facility was constructed to a 1.5 importance factor, which is 50% above the California commercial building standard. It contains emergency operations for electric, gas, and energy procurement.

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