By Jennifer Robison
SAN FRANCISCO — When you’re a fifth of a mile in the air, nothing comes easily.
That includes electricity.
The farther power flows from its source, the weaker it gets. PG&E has worked with Salesforce Tower developer Boston Properties to make sure such line loss is not a problem inside San Francisco’s tallest building. The 1,070-foot tower recently switched over to permanent PG&E power and is scheduled to open in the fall.
“With tall buildings come tall challenges,” said Danny Murtagh, vice president of engineering for Boston Properties. “Those challenges sometimes come in the form of how do you get electricity all the way to the top of the building without having it diminish. PG&E helped us work on resolving that issue with the design team, so the electric power all the way up the building is very reliable, very constant and consistent.”
To ensure that reliability, the tower has more power infrastructure than any other office building in town. Its two miles of electric cable run longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. Its seven transformers are each the size of a delivery van, and are nearly double the typical four transformers per big office building. All in, the tower’s energy infrastructure is enough to power 1,000 single-family homes.
It took about 80 PG&E employees and contractors nearly five years to design and build out the job.
“The infrastructure that’s required to support these buildings needs to be done years in advance,” said Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E’s president and chief operating officer. “We’ve been working with the architects and engineers for this building and buildings like it across the city so far in advance to organize the giant dance of how we’re going to get the infrastructure into these buildings in an affordable and efficient way.”
The effort is worth it, because steady power will help the Bay Area grow.
“This building is just a great example of the important role we play in the economy here in Northern California,” Stavropoulos said. “Without us, this building couldn’t operate. The people in this building couldn’t function the way they need to function, and it’s just an awesome and awe-inspiring experience to be reminded every day of the important role that we play here to provide for the needs of 14 million Californians.”
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.