Linemen News: February

News Highlights from the Electric Power Industry

Here are some industry news and information articles from around the web, just for you.

PG&E expands its 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plan

As part of its ongoing efforts to further reduce wildfire risks and keep customers and the communities it serves safe, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) this week submitted its 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The plan expands and enhances the company’s comprehensive Community Wildfire Safety Program designed to address the growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires across its service area.

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Digital workflow technologies could save contractors and utilities time and money

To improve efficiencies, contractors are trying new technologies to smooth out the ebb and flow of information tied to fieldwork. Take, for example, joint-use audits.

Typically, an electric utility will call a contractor to inspect poles and see if, say, a telecommunications company (which rents space on the pole to hang its gear) has violated any company construction specifications.

Left unchecked, violations can cause safety or construction issues. Inspections also help the pole owner back bill the offending party for failure to notify them of an attachment. For contractors, joint-use audits – or make-ready work – can lead to additional revenue in the form of engineering and construction work.

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Backup Power for Critical Loads Can Save Lives and Money

On September 13, 2017, powerful Category 3 Hurricane Irma stormed into south Florida’s Broward County, between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It was a killer.

Among the victims were a dozen residents of a local nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. While the storm didn’t completely knock out power to the nursing home, it did take out the transformer for the circuit that served the facility’s air conditioning system.

Twelve elderly residents died of heat exhaustion, as the temperature spike after the hurricane hit 92F. The Florida tragedy was a grisly reminder that failure to have a backup power system for critical loads doesn’t just cost dollars and create inconvenience—it can cost lives.

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Dominion Energy sets 2050 net-zero carbon goal, buys Southern’s stake in Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Dominion says it has already made rapid progress to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, but will now accelerate those efforts through a diverse menu of efforts focused on its own operations as well as other industries.

The company says it is “poised to support a dramatic reduction in the carbon footprint of the transportation sector” by deploying electric vehicle charging infrastructure and developing the United States’ largest electric school bus program. The utility will also support the use of liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas and hydrogen fuels in long-haul trucks and maritime shipping vessels.

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NERC eyes stronger measures to secure utility supply chains, forms EMP task force

Experts say electric utilities are generally prepared and well-defended against cyber threats, but as the grid embraces distributed resources and connected devices, the risk has morphed to ancillary stakeholders.

“A weak link is all the vendors that support the utility,” Alex Santos, CEO of Fortress Information Security, told Utility Dive. “Because those vendors are not as well-defended, adversaries are moving in that direction.”

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Chicago IBEW 134 Trains Fire Inspectors and First Responders in Solar Safety

Dominion maintains the $7.5-billion pipeline is “needed now more than ever” for economic growth and to reduce carbon emissions, but the court called out regulators for failing to adequately consider the impacts on local populations. The Fourth Circuit concluded Virginia regulators relied too heavily on air quality standards, leading it to dismiss issues of environmental justice and the impact on nearby communities.

“Even if all pollutants within the county remain below state and national air quality standards, the board failed to grapple with the likelihood that those living closest to the compressor station … will be affected more than those living in other parts of the same county,” the 47-page decision finds.

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Be Prepared. Think Safety.