Posted on February 6, 2014

Bakersfield: PG&E Upgrades Electric Transmission Line, Improving Service and Capacity

By Tracy Correa

BAKERSFIELD – PG&E crews have been hard at work on a project to upgrade 12 miles of electric transmission line in Bakersfield that will both improve service reliability and accommodate future growth on the city’s west side.

Under cloudy skies today (Feb. 6), crews worked to upgrade 11,000 feet of conductor over neighborhoods and across some of the city’s busiest roadways. Local media was invited to watch as workers hovered above in bucket trucks. On the ground, utility trucks – called pullers – were affixed with large, spool-like fixtures carrying cable stretched upward to poles.

PG&E crews work on a transmission line upgrade in Bakersfield. At right is a truck called a puller, which pulls conductor. (Photos by Tracy Correa.)

PG&E’s Bill Smith, general construction sub-foreman, said customers will benefit from the upgrades with improved service in the rapidly-growing west side of Bakersfield.

“They will just notice overall better reliability and less outages, especially in the summer time,” said Smith.

Crews consisting of 15 workers pulled lines of conductor from the Rosedale Highway on-ramp for the Westside Parkway to Laurelglen Boulevard near Gosford Road.

The highly-visible project will ultimately benefit 2,000 homes and businesses, specifically the area of Bear Mountain Boulevard to Rosedale Highway near Coffee Road. The project will also increase capacity in an area of town expected to continue growing. (The Bakersfield Californian covered the story.)

Temporary safety barriers have been placed over major roadways to protect motorists and PG&E distribution lines. All of the transmission lines are de-energized while the work is being completed but electrical service to customers is not expected to be affected during the project.

PG&E crews are shown working on an upgrade project to replace 12 miles of transmission line in Bakersfield.

The work involves PG&E workers first removing existing copper wire. The upgraded wire is aluminum, which provides for improved reliability and meets growing capacity needs.

The aluminum wire is better, said Smith: “It carries a larger load capacity and handles a lot more amperage.”

The transmission lines carry higher voltage (60 kilovolt and above) from power plant to substations where voltage is then reduced to distribution levels for use in homes and businesses.

In addition to upgrading transmission lines, PG&E crews also are replacing existing wood poles with steel poles and new equipment.

Smith said the project should be finished by April, just in time for the area’s increased summer demand.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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