Plan is designed to enhance the region’s resiliency
SAN DIEGO, Feb. 6, 2019 – As conversations about climate change and wildfires continue to be at the forefront of California policy discussions, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has developed a comprehensive 2019 Wildfire Mitigation Plan (the Plan), designed to help prevent electric equipment-related fires, improve the resiliency of the regional power grid to withstand extreme weather conditions, and enhance the company’s highest priority: keeping customers and the communities it serves safe.
The Plan builds upon the wildfire mitigation programs SDG&E has been developing and implementing over the past decade. Submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission on Feb. 6 in accordance with Senate Bill 901, the Plan outlines the ongoing practices and additional improvements the company will undertake beyond the more than $1 billion in investments that SDG&E has made over the past decade to adapt to the effects of the changing climate and threat of year-round wildfires.
“Every year, climate change presents new risks and challenges that we must prepare for and adapt to,” said Caroline Winn, chief operating officer for SDG&E. “Our engineers, fire science and climate adaption experts are continuing to develop and implement industry-leading wildfire mitigation tactics to help protect our communities. There is no higher priority for us than the safety of our customers.”
In addition to the actions that SDG&E intends to implement in the Plan, the company recognizes that state policy makers are actively examining additional solutions to proactively help mitigate wildfire risk throughout the state. SDG&E looks forward to hearing the recommendations from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission and encourages legislators and policy makers to act with a sense of urgency to continue enabling utilities to strengthen their wildfire mitigation programs for the benefit of all Californians.
SDG&E started aggressive efforts to address climate change and enhance power grid resiliency 10 years ago when rising temperatures, prolonged droughts, and severe weather patterns began correlating with the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires.
SDG&E’s approach to prudently managing the risk of its electrical infrastructure causing a wildfire is three-pronged, focusing on, but not limited to, ongoing efforts in the following areas:
- Operations and Engineering: build and operate a fire-safety system with the following elements:
- System Hardening: Fire hardening projects, including upgrading wood poles to fire-resistant steel poles. More than 14,000 poles have been upgraded in the high-risk, fire-prone areas.
- Aggressive Vegetation Management: An inventory of 463,000 trees located near power lines is evaluated on an annual cycle. Prior to fire season, crews perform multiple annual hazard tree assessments and complete trimming to maintain proper clearance.
- Aircrane: A firefighting helitanker has been contracted for the 10th straight year and is available to all fire agencies in San Diego and South Orange counties (365 days a year), with the capacity to drop 2,650 gallons of water. In comparison, that’s equivalent to the amount of water carried by five fire engines.
- Situational Awareness and Weather Technology: detect, monitor and forecast weather conditions and fire behavior by creating and maintaining the following tools and resources:
- Meteorology and Fire Science Capabilities: A network of 177 weather stations – America’s most-granular utility-owned network of its kind – provides readings of wind speed, humidity, and temperature in fire prone areas every 10 minutes. SDG&E's team of five full-time meteorologists created and uses outage prediction and fire science modeling to help field crews pre-stage staffing and resources ahead of extreme weather and fire conditions.
- Alert SDG&E Cameras: Sixteen high-definition cameras mounted on mountaintops help with fire detection by enabling a live-streaming view of the many fire-prone areas.
- Wildland Fire Prevention Resources: SDG&E contracts for wildland fire prevention and ignition suppression services to provide fire prevention and ignition mitigation. Additional Industrial Fire Brigades are contracted to be available year-round and are specially trained in fighting fires involving electrical equipment and flammable liquids.
- Customer Outreach and Education: Collaborating with local agencies to help ensure effective outreach and communications to the public is ongoing regarding preparedness.
- Regional Collaboration: Working in partnership with a host of regional stakeholders, including elected officials, nonprofit organizations and first responders, SDG&E maintains a multi-level outreach and education strategy to create public awareness of fire threats, fire prevention, and support during a wildfire or a Public Safety Power Shutoff event.
- Community Resource Centers: Responding to requests from the public, nine stationary Community Resource Centers were established in 2018 and serve as locations where impacted communities can go when circuits are shutoff in their area for extended Public Safety Power Shutoff events. These centers will provide up-to-date information, and basic needs like water, snacks and a place to charge cell phones.
To learn more about SDG&E’s long-standing commitment to wildfire safety over the years, including its recent Edison Award dedicated to wildfire safety, click here.
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing around 45 percent of its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas pipelines; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.
This press release contains statements that are not historical fact and constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements can be identified by words such as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "plans," "estimates," "projects," "forecasts," "contemplates," "assumes," "depends," "should," "could," "would," "will," "confident," "may," "can," "potential," "possible," "proposed," "target," "pursue," "outlook," "maintain," or similar expressions or discussions of guidance, strategies, plans, goals, opportunities, projections, initiatives, objectives or intentions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Future results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements.
Factors, among others, that could cause our actual results and future actions to differ materially from those described in any forward-looking statements include risks and uncertainties relating to: actions and the timing of actions, including decisions, new regulations, and issuances of permits and other authorizations by the California Public Utilities Commission, U.S. Department of Energy, California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, states, cities and counties, and other regulatory and governmental bodies in the U.S.; the timing and success of business development efforts and construction projects, including risks in timely obtaining or maintaining permits and other authorizations, risks in completing construction projects on schedule and on budget; the resolution of civil and criminal litigation and regulatory investigations; deviations from regulatory precedent or practice that result in a reallocation of benefits or burdens among shareholders and ratepayers; denial of approvals of proposed settlements or modifications of settlements; delays in, or disallowance or denial of, regulatory agency authorizations to recover costs in rates from customers or regulatory agency approval for projects required to enhance safety and reliability, any of which may raise our cost of capital and materially impair our ability to finance our operations; the greater degree and prevalence of wildfires in California in recent years and risk that we may be found liable for damages regardless of fault, such as in cases where the inverse condemnation doctrine applies, and risk that we may not be able to recover any such costs in rates from customers in California; the availability of electric power and natural gas, and natural gas pipeline and storage capacity, including disruptions caused by failures in the transmission grid, moratoriums or limitations on the withdrawal or injection of natural gas from or into storage facilities, and equipment failures; changes in energy markets; volatility in commodity prices; moves to reduce or eliminate reliance on natural gas; risks that our counterparties will be unable or unwilling to fulfill their contractual commitments; weather conditions, natural disasters, accidents, equipment failures, computer system outages, explosions, terrorist attacks and other events that disrupt our operations, damage our facilities and systems, cause the release of greenhouse gases, radioactive materials and harmful emissions, cause wildfires and subject us to third-party liability for property damage or personal injuries, fines and penalties, some of which may not be covered by insurance (including costs in excess of applicable policy limits), may be disputed by insurers or may otherwise not be recoverable through regulatory mechanisms or may impact our ability to obtain satisfactory levels of insurance, to the extent that such insurance is available or not prohibitively expensive; cybersecurity threats to the energy grid, storage and pipeline infrastructure, the information and systems used to operate our businesses and the confidentiality of our proprietary information and the personal information of our customers and employees; capital markets and economic conditions, including the availability of credit and the liquidity of our investments; and fluctuations in interest rates and our ability to effectively hedge the risk of such fluctuations; the impact of recent federal tax reform and uncertainty as to how it may be applied, and our ability to mitigate adverse impacts; actions by credit rating agencies to downgrade our credit ratings or to place those ratings on negative outlook and our ability to borrow at favorable rates; changes in foreign and domestic trade policies and laws, including border tariffs, and revisions to or replacements of international trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, that may increase our costs or impair our ability to resolve trade disputes; the ability to win competitively bid infrastructure projects against a number of strong and aggressive competitors; the impact on reliability of our electric transmission and distribution system due to increased amount and variability of power supply from renewable energy sources; the impact on competitive customer rates due to the growth in distributed and local power generation and the corresponding decrease in demand for power delivered through our electric transmission and distribution system and from possible departing retail load resulting from customers transferring to Direct Access and Community Choice Aggregation or other forms of distributed and local power generation, and the potential risk of nonrecovery for stranded assets and contractual obligations; and other uncertainties, some of which may be difficult to predict and are beyond our control.
These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the reports that Sempra Energy has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports are available through the EDGAR system free-of-charge on the SEC's website, www.sec.gov. Investors should not rely unduly on any forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof, and the company undertakes no obligation to update or revise these forecasts or projections or other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Sempra South American Utilities, Sempra North American Infrastructure, Sempra LNG & Midstream, Sempra Renewables, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utility, Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) and Infraestructura Energética Nova, S.A.B. de C.V. (IEnova) are not the same companies as the California utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) or Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), and Sempra South American Utilities, Sempra North American Infrastructure, Sempra LNG & Midstream, Sempra Renewables, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utility, Oncor and IEnova are not regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.