Learn about the California drought
Conserving in our communities
California is enduring one of the most severe droughts in modern history. Learn what PG&E is doing to ease the impact on you and our communities.
California is our home. It's where we live and work, so every PG&E employee is serious about responding to the drought in a committed and productive manner. Here’s what we're doing to make a difference during this challenging time of near-historic, prolonged drought conditions.
Saving water with reduced hydroelectric generation
Due to reduced precipitation, we've strategically generated less hydropower this year. This conservation helps to preserve reservoir levels for generating power during summer's peak periods when the demand is highest.
We're working closely with water agencies, first responders and regulatory agencies to address drought-associated concerns and to develop mitigation measures for limited water deliveries, increased fire danger and environmental impacts. Our aim is to save water while still preserving environmental values in affected streams.
Conserving local water supplies
Several mountain communities are managing critically low water supplies. We're supporting the communities' efforts to conserve water where possible. For example, at Pillsbury, Pinecrest and Lyons reservoirs, reduced water release rates were developed with stakeholders and regulatory agencies before gaining approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
In Bakersfield, we’re teaming up with several groups to share water conservation tips with residents. Visit Bakersfield: PG&E Partners with City, Various Groups at Water Conservation Event.
Using dry-cooling technology at Colusa, Gateway and Humboldt Bay power plants
Our three natural gas-fired generation stations use dry-cooling technology that requires 97 percent less water than conventional water cooling systems. These power plants use freshwater to generate steam, cool auxiliary equipment and support fire systems. They’re mostly closed-loop systems that minimize the amount of water consumed. In addition, we consulted with the agencies that deliver water to our power plants. We anticipate no impact to our ability to deliver energy to our customers.
Reducing the risk of wildfires and staying prepared for emergencies
PG&E is the community's partner in safety. We’re strongly committed to public safety, and we’re working hard to reduce the risk of wildfires during the prolonged drought. We’ve added a range of additional actions to prepare for and respond to the drought to our normal extensive, year-round steps that prevent trees and vegetation from coming into contact with our electrical facilities. Because of the extra-dry conditions, we're working hard to reduce the risk of wildfires through our vegetation management programs.
The steps include:
- Enhanced vegetation inspections and mitigation, including more aerial and ground inspections
- Urban wild land interface protection
- High fire-risk tree identification and mitigation, using light and radar (LiDAR), hyperspectral and other high-tech methods
- Working with local fire-safe councils and CAL FIRE to reduce fire sources
- Fuel reduction and emergency response access
- Early forest disease and infestation detection
- Early detection and quick response to wildfires
- Creating fire breaks in and around communities and utilities
If a fire threatens public safety or PG&E facilities, we support firefighting efforts through our workforce and the activation of our Incident Command System (ICS). Our six command vehicles serve as mobile coordination and communications centers. Staged across the service territory, they can be deployed quickly. They can host other emergency responders and provide Geographic Information System (GIS) critical mapping information.
We support proper firefighting efforts if there is a wildfire threat. This includes using our Incident Command System (ICS). We have six command vehicles that are mobile communication centers. They can be in use quickly because they’re stationed throughout our service territory. They can also host other emergency responders and provide geographic information system (GIS) mapping information.
Learn about wildfire prevention during droughts. Visit Sacramento: PG&E Boosts Efforts to Prevent Catastrophic Wildfires during Drought.
Conserving water at our facilities
In response to the governor's drought declaration, we are going above and beyond our current efforts to conserve water. Here’s how:
- Reducing water use at our facilities
- Educating our employees on how to reduce water use at work and home
- Helping you save water through our programs
Compared with 2009, we reduced our water use by more than 30 percent by the end of 2014. Here’s how we accomplished this:
- Installing water-efficient urinals and toilets
- Installing automatic faucets
- Installing aerators in faucets and showerheads
- Using diligent irrigation and leak-management systems
- Using smart irrigation meters and real-time submitters
- Installing drought-tolerant landscaping
Engaging our employees to help
We launched the Water Wise Pledge Campaign in 2014. The campaign’s goal was to help our employees reduce water use at work and home. We aimed for 10 percent participation, or 2,200 employees. We exceeded that goal. The net effect of this effort was 50 million gallons of water saved per year. That number equals the annual usage of 380 average households.
PG&E employees also volunteered their time to distribute food to San Joaquin Valley residents. In this farming community, many people are out of work because of the drought.
Learn how we’re helping families impacted by the drought. Visit Fresno County: PG&E Partners with Food Bank, Red Cross to Help Drought-Impacted Residents.
Explore your drought resource options
Find tips, tools and information to help you conserve water and energy, and save money.
Get rebates, financial assistance and water-saving tips and tools.
Take advantage of rebates, financing options and special programs.
With four years of drought, more trees are dying and creating safety hazards. Learn how you can prevent injuries and property damage.