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PG&E Adds New Heavy-Lift Helicopters to Support Utility Infrastructure Projects and Enhance Wildfire Safety

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has secured two heavy-lift helicopters as part of the company’s new Community Wildfire Safety Program. The primary purpose of the new helicopters is to help PG&E do day-to-day work in remote and hard to reach places across its 70,000-square mile service area.

“We want to be sure we are doing all we can to protect the state’s energy infrastructure and keep our customers safe given the increased extreme weather we’re seeing across California,” said Barry Anderson, PG&E vice president of Wildfire Resiliency and Emergency Management. “These new helicopters will help support critical utility work and will be available to aid with wildfire safety efforts, if requested.”

PG&E has deployed helicopters, usually on a contract basis, for its electric, gas and generation work for many years in support of construction and maintenance activities.

The newly added aircraft were secured through an exclusive use agreement with PJ Helicopters. PG&E plans to add two more heavy-lift helicopters in 2019.

In addition to supporting utility work, PG&E will defer its use to make the new Sikorsky UH-60 fleet available for first responder use, if needed and requested, during wildfire events.

Community Wildfire Safety Program

These new helicopters are part of the many steps PG&E has taken under its Community Wildfire Safety Program, launched in March, in response to the wildfires throughout our state last year, as additional precautionary measures intended to reduce the risk of wildfires:

• Established a Wildfire Safety Operations Center to monitor potential fire threats across the PG&E service area in real time and coordinate prevention and response efforts.
• Added more than 50 new weather stations – with a total of around 200 planned in 2018 – to provide improved awareness of fire danger conditions and better predict where a wildfire could occur.
• Enhanced vegetation management in high fire-threat areas to meet new state vegetation and fire safety standards and create safe space between trees, limbs and power lines.
• Alerted more than 570,000 homes and businesses served by electric lines in extreme-fire threat areas that PG&E may have to shut off power for public safety if extreme fire danger conditions occur, as a last resort.

PG&E Urges Customers to Conserve Energy, Stay Safe During Heat Wave

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— California’s grid operator has called a statewide Flex Alert for tomorrow and Wednesday, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) urges its customers to conserve energy as triple-digit heat will impact much of the company’s service area.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued a Flex Alert, a call for voluntary electricity conservation, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday (July 24) and Wednesday (July 25). The ISO and PG&E are asking consumers to conserve electricity especially during the late afternoon when customers typically crank up their air conditioners.

ISO says factors prompting the Flex Alert are high temperatures across the Western United States, a forecast of increased demand, the lack of additional generation, tight gas supplies and high-fire risk.

PG&E meteorologists forecast that temperatures will reach near 110 degrees in the hottest locations in the Central Valley, driving up energy demand and especially air conditioner use.

PG&E is prepared and, based on forecasts, doesn’t anticipate any issues meeting the increased demand for power.

ISO forecasts customer demand for energy will reach 48,179 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday. Peak load in the 20-year history of ISO is 50,270 MW on July 24, 2006.

PG&E also urges customers to stay safe during this heat wave. The company funds cooling centers throughout its service area to help customers escape the heat and cool off. To find a center near you click here or call 1-877-474-3266.

About 425,000 residential and business customers are enrolled in five PG&E Demand Response programs. Collectively, their ability to reduce consumption is at a level that would prevent the need to utilize a gas-fired power plant.

Small behavioral changes also can make a big difference in reducing demand on the power grid during periods of extreme heat and help customers save money all summer long.

• Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home, health permitting, and 85 degrees when you’re away.

• Setting your AC thermostat 5 degrees higher will save about 10 percent on cooling costs.
• If you turn your ceiling fan on when using the air conditioner, you can raise your thermostat about 4°F to save energy with no reduction in comfort.
• Shut windows and draw the shades to keep in pre-cooled air from the night and early morning.
• Have your central cooling duct system checked for leaks. Up to 20 percent of cooled air can be lost through leaky or poorly insulated ducts.
• Buy an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner if your air conditioner is ready to be replaced. It can reduce energy usage by up to 10 percent.
• Avoid using an electric oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.

For more tips on how to save this summer, visit www.pge.com/summer.

PG&E Adds Over 50 New Weather Stations to Advance Forecasting Abilities, Better Predict Extreme Weather and Wildfire Potential

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— As part of its Community Wildfire Safety Program, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is building a network of weather stations to monitor and further advance its weather forecasting abilities to better predict where a wildfire could occur so it can respond quickly and appropriately to help keep customers and communities safe.

Since January of this year, PG&E has added more than 50 new weather stations, with around 200 total planned to be built and installed across PG&E’s service area by the end of the year. The newly added stations are located in Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Marin, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Tuolumne counties.

Data collected by these stations will be streamed in real time and available to state and local agencies and the public through online sources such as NOAA and MesoWest.

“We saw first-hand last year how extreme weather events driven by climate change are causing unprecedented and unanticipated wildfires,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management. “Adding new weather stations in high fire-threat areas across our service area enhances our weather forecasting and modeling to help bolster wildfire prevention and response efforts and keep our customers safe.”

Real-Time Data to Assess Fire Danger Conditions

PG&E has historically used weather forecast data for many purposes, mainly for predicting storm damage and for assessing fire danger. Its team of meteorologists, which includes fire-weather specialists, performs daily monitoring of current and forecast weather patterns and fire threat projections using in-house and publicly available data from the National Weather Service, CAL FIRE, US Forest Service and more. This information helps PG&E predict when and where the fire threat will be high or extreme so additional steps can be taken to keep critical infrastructure, utility crews and communities safe.

With these new weather stations, PG&E will be able to capture additional real-time data related to temperature, wind speeds and humidity levels to provide improved awareness of current fire danger conditions.

PG&E’s meteorologists will feed information to the company’s new Wildfire Safety Operations Center team to review data and determine any needed action to help reduce wildfire risks. In the event of extreme fire danger conditions, one of the actions PG&E may take is temporarily turning off electricity for safety in specific areas. PG&E is reaching out to customers who are served by electric lines in extreme fire-threat areas to let them know about possible power outages during high wildfire threats so they can take steps to prepare.

These new weather stations are one of the additional precautionary measures PG&E is putting in place as part of its Community Wildfire Safety Program, intended to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future. More information can be found at pge.com/wildfiresafety.

PG&E Working with Customers and Community Leaders in High Fire-Threat Areas to Prepare for Safety Outages Due to Extreme Weather

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— As the 2018 fire season gets into full swing in California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is reaching out to customers who live in or near high fire-threat areas to let them know that, if extreme fire danger conditions occur, it may be necessary for PG&E to temporarily turn off power to their neighborhood or community for safety.

Proactively turning off power for public safety is one part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, which implements additional precautionary measures intended to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future. PG&E would only turn off power in the interest of public safety and as a last resort during extreme weather conditions.

“PG&E has a plan to deal with the growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires that our state has been experiencing,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management. “We want our customers to have plans, too. That is why we are reaching out now to help our customers and communities take steps to prepare for wildfire season and possible power outages in the name of public safety.”

Wildfire Safety Operations Center: Monitoring of Fire Danger Conditions

PG&E’s new Wildfire Safety Operations Center will monitor conditions across the company’s service area during wildfire season. While no single factor will drive a Public Safety Power Shutoff, some of the many factors that will inform the decision include: strong winds, very low humidity levels, and critically dry vegetation that could serve as fuel for a wildfire. PG&E will also consider on-the-ground, real-time observations from field crews, among other factors.

If PG&E needs to turn off power for safety, it will be limited to neighborhoods or communities served by electric lines that run through areas experiencing extreme fire danger conditions. PG&E will turn the power back on as soon as it is safe to do so. The most likely electric lines to be considered for shutting off for safety will be those in areas that have been designated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as at extreme risk for wildfire (Tier 3 areas), based on the CPUC’s latest High Fire-Threat District map.

When and where possible, PG&E will provide early warning notification as well as updates until power is restored. Extreme weather threats can change quickly. If conditions allow, PG&E will provide notice to customers between one hour to 48 hours in advance through automated phone calls, texts and emails.

For planning purposes, PG&E suggests customers served by electric lines in extreme fire-threat areas consider their service may need to be turned off 1-2 times during wildfire season, although it is impossible to predict future weather conditions in the “new normal” of extreme weather events. While in most cases PG&E would expect to be able to restore power within 24 hours after the extreme weather has passed and inspections have begun, outages could last multiple days depending on conditions.

Preparing for Outages

PG&E is working together with customers, local municipalities, first responders and other stakeholders to share information and help communities prepare for and stay safe during extreme weather events. As part of this commitment to public safety, PG&E is mailing letters and sending emails to more than 570,000 homes and businesses served by electric lines in extreme fire-threat areas informing them that it may be necessary for PG&E to temporarily turn off electricity.

As part of these preparedness efforts, PG&E is asking customers to:
• Learn whether their home or business is in or near a high fire-threat area on the CPUC High Fire-Threat District map. Customers also can visit pge.com/wildfiresafety to enter their address and find out if their home or business is served by an electric line that may be turned off for safety during high wildfire threats.
• Update their contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours. PG&E will use this information to alert customers in advance of turning off their electric service for safety, when and where possible.
• Prepare for and practice an emergency plan to keep themselves, their families and/or employees emergency-ready and safe during an outage. Information and tips including a safety plan checklist are available at pge.com/wildfiresafety.

PG&E, Local Fire Safe Councils Empower Communities to Help Prevent, Prepare for Wildfires

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— In an effort to help prevent wildfires and protect communities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is joining forces with local Fire Safe Councils to enhance the safety and preparedness of local communities. PG&E is providing $2 million to fund local Fire Safe Council projects to reduce the threat of wildfires and help keep communities safe.

“Years of drought, extreme heat and 129 million dead trees are creating a ‘new normal’ in our state and we must continue to adapt to these challenges. We appreciate our continuing partnership with local Fire Safe Councils to complete this important safety work. These projects create fuel breaks to protect communities, clear vegetation from evacuation routes, and help underserved customers create critical defensible space to protect their homes from fire,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management.

Since 2014, and including this year, PG&E will have provided $13 million to local Fire Safe Councils and 501(c)(3) organizations to fund more than 200 projects in Northern and Central California. Projects have included fuel reduction, shaded fuel breaks, emergency access and wood-chipping programs. This year, PG&E is providing funding to local councils and nonprofits to complete approximately 30 projects in 24 counties. Projects must be completed by October of this year. A list of Fire Safe Councils receiving project funding is below.

Community Wildfire Safety Program

In addition to partnering with local Fire Safe Councils, PG&E is preparing for wildfires through its new Community Wildfire Safety Program. The company launched the program in March as an additional precautionary measure intended to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future. Through the program, PG&E is bolstering wildfire prevention and emergency response efforts, putting in place new and enhanced safety measures, and doing more over the long term to harden its electric system to help reduce wildfire risks and to keep its customers safe.

Local Fire Safe Councils Receiving Funding for Projects

Organization – County
Amador Fire Safe Council – Amador
Butte County Fire Safe Council – Butte
Calaveras Foothills Fire Safe Council – Calaveras
Calaveras Resource Conservation District – Calaveras
Comptonville Community Partnership for Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council (Yuba County Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council ) – Yuba
Diablo Fire Safe Council – Alameda Contra Costa
East Bay Regional Park District/Regional Park Foundation – Alameda
El Dorado Fire Safe Council – El Dorado
FIRESafe MARIN – Marin
Fire Safe SMC (Woodside Fire Protection District) – San Mateo
FSC of Monterey County – Monterey
Fire Safe Council of Nevada County – Nevada
Highway 108 Fire Safe Council – Tuolumne
Highway 168 Fire Safe Council – Fresno
Iowa Hill Community Club (Forest/Iowa Hill FSC) – Placer
Lassen County Fire Safe Council – Lassen/Shasta
Mariposa Fire Safe Council – Mariposa
Mattole Restoration Council – Humboldt
Mendocino County Fire Safe Council – Mendocino
Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council – Napa
Napa Communities Firewise Foundation: Angwin FSC & Deer Park FSC – Napa
Plumas Corporation: Plumas County Fire Safe Council – Plumas
San Luis Obispo County FSC – San Luis Obispo
Santa Clara FSC – Santa Clara
Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council – Madera
Yosemite Foothill Fire Safe Council – Tuolumne
Western Shasta Resource Conservation District – Shasta

RTD Announces Free Rides on National Dump the Pump Day on June 21

Stockton, CA —San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) announced today that it will join with other public transportation systems nationwide to participate in the 13th Annual National Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, June 21. The slogan of this year’s National Dump the Pump Day is “Dump the Pump. Ride Public Transit.” RTD will offer free rides for all buses except Commuter routes on Thursday, June 21.

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the 2018 National Dump the Pump Day encourages people to ride public transportation instead of driving a car. Started in June 2006 when gas prices were $3 per gallon, this national day emphasizes that public transportation is a convenient travel option that can also help people save money. According to the March APTA Transit Savings Report, individuals in a two-person household can save an average of more than $9,894 annually by downsizing to one car.

“Stockton residents can choose to save money by dumping the pump and maximize the benefits of doing so for the environment and their neighbors,” said RTD CEO Donna DeMartino. “This is due to RTD’s commitment to zero-emission fleet electrification like what is already taking place in South Stockton. All you have to do is ride the bus.”
RTD mascot “Artie D.” is rumored to have something special in mind to celebrate Dump the Pump Day this year. Follow RTD on sjRTD.com and on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, especially on June 21, to see what happens.
San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) is the regional transit provider for San Joaquin County. RTD’s mission is to provide a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system for the region. For more information, visit sjRTD.com, follow RTD on Facebook and Twitter, or call (209) 943-1111.

PG&E Begins Daily Aerial Patrols to Spot, Speed Wildfire Response; Adds Two New Routes to 2018 Schedule

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has begun its daily aerial fire detection patrols across hundreds of miles of its service area. This year, PG&E has added two new routes to the patrols which assist the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE and local fire agencies with early fire detection and response. Early detection of smoke or fire allows fire agencies to quickly respond to accurate locations.

“Wildfires in California have grown in number, size and intensity in recent years. We all must adapt to this new normal and do even more to prevent and prepare for fires. That’s why we’ve increased the area and number of customers that our daily aerial patrols will cover to help keep communities safe,” said Pat Hogan, PG&E senior vice president of Electric Operations.
The patrols began on June 1 and will run until October 31, unless conditions allow for an earlier end or require an extension. Seven planes will fly daily routes from late afternoon until dusk.

Using fixed-wing aircraft, fire spotters will operate along these routes:
• Redding to Auburn in the Northern Sierra
• Auburn to Sonora in the Central Sierra
• Sonora to Porterville in the Southern Sierra
• Redding to Humboldt to Lake County
• Vacaville to Solvang near the coast
• Redding to Hoopa to MacArthur (Siskiyou County and northeastern Shasta County)
• Mendocino County

The patrols are coordinated through PG&E’s aerial operations. The Mendocino County route is co-funded by PG&E and run by the Mendocino County Aerial Fire Patrol Co-Operative. The Co-Op patrol is scheduled to begin June 15 and run through October 15.

In 2017, PG&E patrols identified approximately 250 fires, 20 of which were first reports. The patrols totaled more than 3,500 flight hours. PG&E began operating the aerial patrols in 2014, after the governor issued a drought emergency declaration. PG&E has continued the patrols because of the scale of tree mortality in California.

About PG&E:
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

PG&E and Division of Boating and Waterways Warn of Cold Water Hazards during Spring Snowmelt

SACRAMENTO, Calif. California’s Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) encourage water enthusiasts to take extra precautions this spring when in or near rivers. These relatively full waterways will continue to rise as snow melts and will be dangerously cold. Simple actions such as knowing the water (is it too cold or swift), knowing your limits, wearing a life jacket or simply not entering the water when conditions are deemed unsafe can save a life.

Last spring, California’s rivers were also full and running high, fast and cold. Despite warnings from multiple public entities, numerous people entered rivers and drowned. The rising waters cover obstacles below the surface. Debris, trees and rocks combined with cold, swift water creates treacherous conditions for all recreationists – waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers and hikers cooling off at the water’s edge. Another important fact is the temperature of rivers during spring. The average swimming pool temperature runs about 80 degrees. In contrast, swift water from snowmelt can be as cold as 40 degrees and trigger shock, paralysis and drowning.

“Do not enter the water if it’s too cold,” said DBW’s Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Even the strongest swimmers can be stunned by cold water and become incapacitated. Also, you’re not only putting yourself at risk, but also your family or friends. Too many times family members or friends go into the water to rescue their loved ones and end up losing their lives.”

Cold water immersion/shock happens quickly once you jump or fall into the water. You have one minute to adjust to the cold shock response and get control of your breathing. Swimming failure occurs after the first 10 minutes when cold water affects your ability to swim or tread water to stay afloat. Not wearing a life jacket or being alcohol-impaired while recreating in cold water makes it even more perilous and deadly once you can no longer move and slip into unconsciousness. Watch this video to see how quickly the effects of cold water immersion affects your body.

“Nothing is more important to PG&E than the safety of the public and our employees. With the snowmelt well underway, we ask those enjoying the outdoors to be careful near mountain streams, rivers and reservoirs. Water flows can increase or decrease rapidly, so always be alert and prepared for a change in conditions. Please put safety first during your recreation activities,” said Jon Franke, PG&E’s vice president of power generation.

Below are some water safety tips:

Stay Out and Stay Alive – Stay Out of Canals and Flumes

  • Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay alive by staying out of these water conveyances, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides and fast-moving cold water. Stay out of canals and off elevated flumes.

Know the Risks

  • Prevention is the best way to save a person from drowning. By the time a person is struggling in water, a rescue is extremely unlikely and places the rescuer at risk.
  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
  • Cold water also reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature, and causes impairment that can lead to fatalities.

Learn About Self-Rescue Techniques

  • If you do fall into the water, here are some survival tips:
  • Do control breathing, don’t gasp. A sudden unexpected fall into cold water causes an involuntary gasp (or torso) reflex. It takes less than ½ cup of water in a person’s lungs to drown. When someone remains calm, they have a greater chance of self-rescue.
  • Don’t panic if you fall into the water.
  • Stay with your boat. It will help you stay afloat and will be seen more easily by rescuers. If it’s capsized, try to climb on top.
  • Stay afloat with the help of a life jacket, regain control of breathing, and keep head above water in view of rescuers.
  • If possible, remove heavy shoes. Look for ways to increase buoyancy such as seat cushions or an ice chest.
  • If you’re in the water with others, huddle together facing towards each other to help everyone stay afloat and keep warm.
  • If you do fall into a river without a life jacket on, watch this video to help you survive.

Know your Limits

  • Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool – people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface – this is especially the case during spring and early summer snowmelt. Rising water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.

Wear a Life Jacket

  • Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket can increase survival time.
  • Anyone within 20 ft. of water should be wearing a life jacket in case of an unexpected fall.
  • A life jacket can also provide some thermal protection against the onset of cold water shock and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.
  • Need a life jacket? Check online to find a life jacket loaner station for a day or weekend use.

Whitewater Rafting and Paddling

  • Most California rivers are fed by the mountain snowpack, so they are cold year around. Even on warm, sunny days, rafters and paddlers must be prepared to deal with the water temperatures. The dangers increase as water temperatures decrease below normal body temperature (98.6 degrees F).
  • DBW offers whitewater enthusiasts informative safety videos online about the dangers of high, fast and cold water safety.

Parental Supervision

  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Do not assume that someone is watching them. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

For more water safety information, including boating laws, please visit www.BoatCalifornia.com.

 

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