Posted on December 27, 2016

Year in Review: PG&E’s Commitment to Safety Is Personal

By David Kligman

Whether it’s restoring power during a winter storm, assisting first responders during a wildfire or increasing awareness of scams, safety is paramount at PG&E.

In March, PG&E employees from throughout the company's service area descended on the Contra Costa County town of Moraga to make the area safe from a sinkhole.

The company’s dedication to keeping employees and the public safe was behind a big recognition this year as the California Emergency Services Association honored PG&E with its Gold Award for “exceptional efforts in the field of emergency preparedness.”

Employees have a personal responsibility to always working safely.

“When lives are entrusted to you for safekeeping, safety weighs on you every moment,” said Ned Biehl, whose team oversees PG&E’s aircraft fleet.

These are just some of the many ways PG&E kept the focus on safety in 2016:

  • In February, PG&E announced it had achieved a major goal with the installation of 235 automatic and remote controlled valves since 2011. Automatic and remote control shut-off valves improve PG&E’s ability to quickly turn off the flow of gas in the event of a significant change in pressure. Remote controlled valves can be opened or closed with the push of a button from PG&E’s state-of-the-art gas control center in San Ramon.
  • In March, PG&E opened its third electric distribution control center. Located in Rocklin in Placer County, the center joins facilities in Fresno and Concord that are transforming how the company monitors and operates its electric grid. The centers enhance grid reliability and also enable quicker response to power outages and emergencies, such as storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • PG&E played a significant role in helping spot and report wildfires before they could become larger thanks to flights conducted over much of the energy company’s service area. From late June through late October, PG&E completed daily air patrols to spot fires in five regions in Northern and Central California. The daily air patrols are part of PG&E’s steadfast efforts to prevent or lessen the impact of wildfires as part of its drought emergency response plan.
  • In May, 28 PG&E employees became the first graduates of PG&E’s comprehensive Apprentice Line Worker Program. The now-journeyman line workers spent five years honing their craft with countless hours of training — everything from the theory of electricity to restoring power on energized lines using fiberglass sticks — and adhering to the highest safety standards. Two additional groups graduated later in the year.
  • Howling winds and a steady rainfall created a big problem in the Contra Costa County town of Moraga in March. Specifically, a huge sinkhole. The situation went from bad to worse as a streetlight toppled into the hole, damaging a gas pipeline. PG&E responded quickly, kept the public safe and worked tirelessly to get service restored for grateful customers.
  • The number of dig-ins from third parties working near PG&E gas lines reduced in 2016, thanks to constant reminders to always call 811 before any digging project. Another reason for the safety improvement was the diligence of the company’s Dig-In Reduction Team, which was begun to combat the safety risks of construction crews and homeowners striking gas pipelines.

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