Through its Electric Vegetation Management (VM) Program, PG&E dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of workforce hours to help reduce electrical outages and wildfire risks. This is just one part of the many programs PG&E has in place to improve the safety and reliability of our service to our customers.
PG&E meets or exceeds all applicable federal and state vegetation clearance requirements and performs regular power line tree safety activities in accordance with industry standards, guidelines and procedures to reduce outages or fires caused by trees or other vegetation. Utilities are not required, nor would it be practical, to remove every tree that could come into contact with its electric lines. PG&E is focused on maintaining required clearances and removing dead or dying trees. We’ve taken a number of actions and continue to invest in our system to ensure the continued safe and reliable service to our customers.
By the Numbers: Vegetation Safety and Reliability Investments
- PG&E’s 70,000 square-mile service area includes approximately 123 million trees with potential to grow or fall into overhead power lines.
- PG&E inspects and monitors every overhead electric transmission and distribution line each year, with some locations patrolled multiple times (18,000 transmission miles plus 82,000 distribution miles is about 100,000 miles of T&D lines).
- PG&E prunes or removes approximately 1.4 million trees annually.
- Across our Northern and Central California service area, this work is performed by more than 3,800 PG&E employees and contractors, including experts educated and trained in arboriculture; approximately 250 have International Society of Arboriculture certifications.
- We regularly notify the public to never attempt to prune or remove trees that are within 10 feet of high-voltage power lines. Only qualified professionals should trim trees near power lines. Customers that are concerned a tree is too close to a power line should call PG&E at (800) 743-5000 and our vegetation management team will survey or trim the tree to make sure it is safe.
Tree Mortality Crisis Response
Since the California tree mortality crisis began in 2014, PG&E added the following enhanced measures to address areas particularly affected by drought and bark beetles.
- Increased foot and aerial patrols along power lines in high fire-risk areas to twice a year; up to four times a year in some locations.
- Conducted secondary patrols along 61 percent of power lines in 2016; expects to patrol 65 percent of line a second time in 2017.
- Removed approximately 236,000 additional dead or dying trees in 2016; expects to remove approximately 150,000 additional dead trees in 2017. Since 2014, provided $11.5 million to local Fire Safe Councils (FSCs) for fuel reduction projects in communities.
- Provided $2 million to local FSCs for 28 highly-programmable remote-sensing cameras on critical fire lookout towers. Launched daily aerial fire detection patrols to improve the spotting and speed of fire response.
- Deployed LiDAR (Light-detecting and Ranging), a remote sensing technology to help identify trees to be worked.
Since 2013, PG&E has spent approximately $1.6 billion in our vegetation management programs to reduce power outages and wildfire risks.
- Invested $185 million in transmission vegetation management from 2013 to 2017 (2017 is forecast, 2013-2016 is actuals)
- Invested $946 million in distribution vegetation management from 2013 to 2017 (2017 is forecast, 2013-2016 is actuals)
- Invested $450 million in tree mortality response from 2014 to 2017 (2017 is forecast, 2014-2016 is actuals)
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.