WASHINGTON, March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Edison Electric Institute today honored Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for outstanding power restoration efforts following devastating winter storms that swept through the utility's service territory in January 2010.
The association's "Emergency Recovery Award" award is presented annually to U.S. and foreign-based member companies that faced untoward circumstances caused by extraordinary events and put forth an outstanding effort to restore service to the public. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented today during EEI's Spring CEO meetings.
A series of Pacific winter storms fueled by a strong jet stream brought extreme high wind conditions, unusually heavy rains, thunderstorm activity and low-elevation snow, impacting the company's entire service territory from January 18 through January 28. The first half of the weather event included three nearly continuous heavy rain and wind storms, with gusts over 60 miles per hour. The worst of the storm period fell on January 20, when rain totals exceeded 2.5 inches in some areas and service was disrupted to 1,356 customers. The second half of the storm produced unusual moderate to heavy snowfall accumulations below 4,000 feet in the northern and central Sierra Nevada Mountains, plus localized heavy rain and funnel clouds near the coast and interior valleys.
More than 1.1 million customers experienced service disruptions due to 3,634 sustained outages. Power was restored to all customers on January 30. Recovery crews used extraordinary measures, including Sno-Cats, snowmobiles and helicopters to gain access to rugged areas, and in some cases resorted to snow shoes to carry heavy equipment into remote locations. The volume and extent of the damage were the most significant obstacles to overcome. The majority of the devastation occurred in parts of PG&E's service territory with the least amount of transportation access. Repairs included replacing more than 100 miles of distribution line, 634 distribution poles and 937 transformers.
PG&E meteorologists tracked the storm as it crossed the Pacific and provided ongoing forecasts to Emergency Preparedness, utilizing the newly-developed Storm Outage Prediction Project model. The model indicated that peak winds would hit late on Sunday, January 17, through Monday, January 18. The advance notice allowed PG&E to pre-stage resources to ensure adequate staffing levels in the hardest hit divisions. In addition, the company preemptively opened its Emergency Operations Center and staffed the necessary command and general staff positions.
The volume and extent of damage required PG&E to reach out to mutual assistance crews from Portland General Electric, Eugene Water and Electric Board and Puget Sound Electric. The company also brought in equipment from Plumas Sierra, San Diego Gas & Electric and Nevada Energy.
Presenting the award to PG&E, EEI President Tom Kuhn said: "Storms of this strength and size demand an extraordinary response to get the lights back on as quickly as possible, and PG&E brought every resource to bear to ensure a swift recovery. PG&E and all of its personnel are truly deserving of this award."
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of U.S. shareholder-owned electric companies. Our members serve 95 percent of the ultimate customers in the shareholder-owned segment of the industry, and represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. electric power industry. We also have more than 65 International electric companies as Affiliate members, and more than 170 industry suppliers and related organizations as Associate members.
SOURCE Edison Electric Institute