Wildfire preparations, grid maintenance considered essential work for PG&E amidst COVID-19

Published on April 07, 2020 by Chris Galford

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Despite the spread of COVID-19 and the issuing of stay-at-home orders, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is continuing to work on essential wildfire mitigation projects, along with the maintenance, repair, and upgrading of gas and electric infrastructure.

“Given the extraordinary COVID-19 situation, safe, consistent gas and electric service are more important today than ever before,” PG&E Utility President and CEO Andy Vesey said. Our crews remain in the field keeping our gas and electric service functioning safely and smoothly, along with all restoration and emergency work. We will adjust our service priorities and work as needed to meet this commitment.”

Beyond wildfire operation, other ongoing electric services at PG&E will include emergency service restoration, preparation for Public Safety Power Shutoff events, enhanced and routine vegetation management and critical maintenance. Some new projects will also continue, for residents ready to move in, medical facilities or manufacturers supporting the COVID-19 response, as well as homeless shelters, elder care facilities, grocery stores, and take-out restaurants.

Some of this ongoing work will include planned outages, though PG&E said it will be trying to limit the number and duration of these outages, given the crisis.

“We understand the impacts of a service interruption given the current shelter-at-home orders for our communities, and the potential disruption or hardship these outages may cause,” said Laurie Giammona, PG&E’s chief customer officer and senior vice president of Customer Care. “We appreciate our customers’ patience and support for our crews as we conduct our essential safety and maintenance work.”

Continuing gas operations will include emergency restoration, service restoration and relights, compliance work such as safety surveys and 811 requests to locate and mark infrastructure, new customer connections, and rebuild work in Butte County.

As essential services, energy companies like PG&E are exempt from the effects of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-at-home order, which applies in some areas until May 1.