Safety, resiliency and clean-energy investments
To protect and meet the energy needs of each of its 16 million customers, and enhance the energy systems they depend on every day, PG&E is proposing a series of crucial safety, resiliency, and clean-energy investments in its 2023 General Rate Case (GRC) (PDF, 3.0 MB). We’re proposing these investments to continue to further reduce wildfire risk and deliver safe, reliable and clean-energy service.
PG&E filed its funding proposal as required by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on June 30, 2021, and submitted program and forecast updates on Feb. 25, 2022. The updates filed in February 2022 address funding for wildfire mitigation projects and activities—including plans to underground portions of the infrastructure in high fire-risk areas—while keeping GRC-related combined bill impact estimates for customers essentially flat over the 2023-26 period compared to PG&E’s original June 2021 GRC proposal.
The CPUC requires energy companies, like PG&E, to file a GRC for the CPUC to review as it determines future customer rates. Previously, PG&E’s GRC was filed every three years and did not include natural gas transmission and storage (GT&S). Beginning in 2023, this review is on a four-year cycle and includes all costs associated with gas operations, electric distribution and generation operations in one proceeding.
PG&E’s GRC proposal includes approximately $12.8 billion in new investments from 2023-2026 to help keep customers safe and reduce the impacts of extreme weather and the threat of catastrophic wildfires. Wildfire safety investments include:
- Hardening power lines and placing approximately 3,600 miles of power lines underground by 2026 to reduce wildfire risk. This is part of PG&E’s broader proposal to underground 10,000 miles of Electric Distribution conductor over the coming years, the largest effort in the nation to underground powerlines as a wildfire risk reduction measure. Beyond dramatically reducing wildfire risk, undergrounding reduces the need for trimming and removing trees—preserving communities’ beauty and natural environments—and over time reduces the need and costs associated with other wildfire mitigation activities;
- Installing sectionalizing devices to reduce the customer impacts and size of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS);
- Expanding the Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings program across all 25,500 distribution line miles in high fire-risk areas, as well as some adjacent areas;
- Testing and using new tools and technologies to better pinpoint how to best prevent and respond to the increasing risk of wildfires;
- Meeting and exceeding state vegetation safety standards to manage trees and other vegetation located near power lines that could cause a wildfire or power outage;
- Removing dead, dying and diseased trees that could strike overhead power lines;
- Deploying LiDAR technology and remote sensing data in extreme and elevated fire-risk areas to validate vegetation management work;
- Partnering with communities to enhance local electric grid resilience through community microgrid projects;
- Working with customers to remove overhead wires in remote high fire-threat areas, and replace with stand-alone power systems to offer a new approach to utility service.
Additionally, PG&E’s GRC request includes significant investments to improve gas and electric system safety, reliability and resiliency; increase the use of new, innovative technologies; and expand the state’s clean energy infrastructure. Critical energy investments include:
Gas system safety and reliability
- Replacing 222.5 miles of distribution main pipeline in 2023 increasing to 245 miles in 2026;
- Increasing the number of miles of gas transmission pipeline that can be inspected by state-of-the-art tools that run inside the pipeline to more than 69% of the system by the end of 2036;
- Strength testing or replacing approximately 174 miles of gas transmission pipe in the rate case period to reconfirm maximum allowable operating pressures and to assess integrity;
- Employing advanced mobile leak detection and quantification technology to quickly find and fix gas leaks to improve safety and reduce methane emissions;
- Treating all gas odor calls as “Immediate Response” calls;
- Continue to reduce the rate of third-party dig-ins around PG&E underground electric and gas facilities through the Damage Prevention Program that supports safe third-party excavation by identifying the presence of underground facilities;
- Enhancing safety by installing secondary overpressure protection devices, such as slam shuts, at gas distribution and gas transmission pilot-operated regulator stations.
Electric system safety and reliability
- Replacing a greater number of wood poles and infrastructure identified through PG&E’s Enhanced Inspection Program;
- Adding additional distribution protection device zones that reduce or mitigate the duration and number of customers impacted by electrical outages;
- Improving critical systems and communications networks to manage the growing number of devices on a more dynamic electric grid and protect it from cybersecurity threats;
- Enabling behind-the-meter distributed generation resources to better serve customer needs; and
- Replacing transformers in high-rise buildings with dry type units to minimize fire risk.
- Investing in electric distribution capacity upgrades to support customer at-home electric vehicle charging demand;
- Investing in more electric vehicle charging infrastructure at PG&E locations across its service area and adding over 1,000 electric vehicles to PG&E’s fleet by 2026;
- Operating and maintaining PG&E’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
- Operating the Elkhorn Battery Energy Storage System, a 183-megawatt storage system at the Moss Landing Substation in Monterey County;
- Uprating the three units at Helms Pumped Storage Facility to increase the amount of clean, hydroelectric power that PG&E can provide customers during peak periods, and help integrate additional intermittent renewable resources;
- Investing in projects to mitigate the risk of uncontrolled water release from its hydroelectric dams.
As with any customer rates proposal by PG&E, investments and expenditures are subject to open and transparent public review and approval by the CPUC. The CPUC thoroughly reviews PG&E’s rates proposals, including holding public hearings throughout the service area.
As part of this public process, PG&E strongly encourages its customers to provide feedback and participate in public hearings to help determine the energy priorities and investments that will define California’s energy future.
This four-year proposal does not include electric transmission costs, state-mandated Public Purpose Programs to support low-income customers and energy efficiency, or the actual commodity cost of gas and electricity. These costs are proposed through separate rate cases.