PG&E and Pacific Union College are collaborating on a project in Angwin to support wildfire prevention.
Known as a Resilience Zone, this pilot project involves infrastructure upgrades that will allow the company to provide electricity to central community resources if power lines need to be turned off for safety due to high wildfire threats.
On an improvised basis, the utility attempted something similar in Calistoga last fall to prevent the town from going dark during a preemptive power shutoff due to a wildfire threat.
For public safety, and only as a last resort, PG&E may need to shut off power lines serving communities in high fire-threat areas when extreme fire danger conditions are forecast, the utility said Wednesday.
If a public safety power shutoff were needed in the Angwin area, the presence of the Resilience Zone would allow temporary mobile generation to connect to the grid quickly and energize centrally located facilities such as the fire station and gas station, as well as the Brookside Apartments and portions of the Angwin Plaza not served by on-campus generation, the utility said in a news release.
The project is under construction near the college’s baseball field and is expected to be completed in early 2019. It is being constructed on a permanent easement and was designed in such a way to ensure access to the baseball diamond and field parking.
“In the aftermath of the devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018, PG&E has been exploring how to quickly but safely provide power to areas where a public safety power shutoff has been initiated,” said Brandon Parker, vice president for financial administration at Pacific Union College. “Angwin and Pacific Union College provide an excellent location for this pilot and this partnership.”
This project will include infrastructure upgrades to enable temporary power generation, putting certain portions of power lines underground, and installing stronger, more resilient poles and covered power lines. Other components include a transformer and associated interconnection equipment as well as a ground grid, and grid isolation and protection devices. Pre-installing this equipment will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to connect temporary generation to the grid, the utility said.
PG&E’s comprehensive Community Wildfire Safety Program includes real-time monitoring and intelligence capabilities, new and enhanced safety measures and a critical hardening of its electric system to strengthen the safety and resiliency of the electric grid to further reduce future wildfire risks. More information can be found at www.pge.com/wildfiresafety.