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.
Due to reduced precipitation, we've strategically generated less hydropower this year to preserve reservoir levels for generating power during summer's peak periods when demand is highest.
To conserve water while still preserving environmental values in affected streams, 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.
Several mountain communities are managing critically low water supplies. We're supporting those communities' efforts to conserve water where possible. For example, at Pillsbury, Pinecrest and Lyons reservoirs, reduced water release rates were developed with the appropriate stakeholders and regulatory agencies before obtaining approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Our three natural gas-fired generation stations use dry-cooling technology that requires 97 percent less water than conventional water cooling systems. While these power plants rely on freshwater to generate steam, cool auxiliary equipment and support fire systems, these systems are largely closed loop systems, which minimize the amount of water that is consumed. Additionally, we've consulted with the agencies that deliver water to our power plants and anticipate no impact to our ability to deliver energy to our customers.
PG&E is the community's partner in safety. We are strongly committed to public safety and we are working hard to reduce the risk of wildfires during this prolonged drought. In addition to PG&E's normal extensive, year-round steps to prevent trees and vegetation from coming into contact with our electrical facilities, PG&E is taking a range of additional actions to prepare for and respond to the drought. These steps include enhanced vegetation inspections and mitigation, urban wild land interface protection, high fire risk tree identification and mitigation, fuel reduction and emergency response access, early forest disease/infestation detection and early detection and quick response to wildfires.
If a fire does threaten public safety or PG&E facilities, we will support firefighting efforts as appropriate—through manpower and activation of our Incident Command System (ICS). We have six command vehicles that are mobile coordination and communications centers. They are staged across the service territory, can be deployed quickly, are able to host other emergency responders and provide Geographic Information System (GIS) critical mapping information.
We recognize water is a critical resource. In response to the Governor's drought declaration, we are going above and beyond our existing efforts to conserve water in our facilities, educate our employees on how to reduce their water use at work and at home, and help our customers achieve water conservation through energy efficiency measures and programs.
Our offices and service centers rely on water for restrooms, kitchens, mechanical system cooling, vehicle washing and landscape irrigation. Using 2009 as the baseline year, we reduced our water use by more than 30 percent by the end of 2014. Key initiatives included installing water efficient urinals and toilets, automatic faucets, aerators in faucets and showerheads, diligent irrigation and leak management systems, smart irrigation meters, real-time sub meters and drought tolerant landscaping.
On May 1, 2014, we launched an employee engagement program we call the Water Wise Pledge Campaign to inspire employees to conserve water both at work and at home. The campaign used our many communication channels and multi-media resources to encourage employees to make a pledge and take action to reduce their water use. PG&E surpassed our goal of engaging 10 percent of the company, or 2,200 employees to make a pledge to do their part to conserve water. The net effect of actions pledged by PG&E employees adds up to 50 million gallons per year saved, equivalent to the annual usage of 380 average households.