Wildfire Safety Advancements
We are hard at work to strengthen our systems and facilities, and to educate our community, in order to reduce the potential of wildfires in our region. Sign up to ensure you get notified of wildfire events.
SDG&E was the first utility in the country to develop a dedicated Fire Science & Climate Adaptation Department. This department includes five full-time meteorologists that are constantly monitoring weather conditions that could lead to wildfire events. Day in and day out, they are analyzing weather data using fire behavior modeling software that they created to provide microclimate forecasts to our electric system operators, as well as to partners across the county.
SDG&E utilizes over 100 cameras that allow us to constantly monitor the potential of wildfire events. This state-of-the art camera network includes 17 high-definition, live-streaming, pan-tilt-zoom cameras that help CAL FIRE more quickly locate and size up wildfires to develop initial plans of attack for first responders prior to their arrival. These cameras and the entire network have become vital in SDG&E’s prevention of wildfire spread.
As part of our program to reduce the risk of wildfires and to improve our response time during an emergency, we have armed our field team with cutting-edge drone technology. Since 2014, drones have been used to:
- Monitor wildfires
- Conduct aerial inspections of electric and gas facilities
- Pinpoint the causes of power outages
- Check on facilities and equipment in remote areas that are difficult for our ground crews or helicopters to reach
- Help string cable in rugged areas
- Check on trees, plants and construction work done by 3rd parties
Burying overhead power lines helps remove the risk of lines sparking fires during Santa Ana wind events. This is a major element in SDG&E’s plan to reduce wildfire risk. Already, SDG&E has undergrounded over 10,000 miles of overhead powerlines, which accounts for 60% of our region.
We have ongoing efforts to bury more lines, which will help reduce the impact of power outages to communities that are likely to be affected by Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
Since 2007, SDG&E has replaced 26,000 wood poles with fire-resistant steel poles in our back country communities (like Ramona, Julian and Descanso) and throughout our service territory. The fire-hardened steel poles and new electric lines are designed to withstand 85 mph wind speeds. And, in some specific cases, up to 111 mph, reducing the risk of failures and potential sparks on the electric system.
Did you know that each year, SDG&E uses arborists, tree trimmers and pole brush experts to maintain safe space around power lines? This team maintains clearances for 455,000 trees and brush is cleared around 30,000 poles. Our vegetation management team is committed to keeping our communities safe; working year-round, they help to prevent power outages and reduce the risk of fire.
Additionally, they provide inspections upon request. If you are concerned that a tree poses a hazard to a power line or transformer, you can contact our Customer Care Team at 1-800-411-7343 to request an inspection.
SDG&E is building a more intelligent, modern electric grid. The new Distribution Communication Reliability Improvement (DCRI) project will improve our wireless communications network used to monitor and control the distribution of electricity. We are building this private, high-speed network for use with our Falling Conductor Protection (FCP) technology. FCP technology can quickly de-energize a powerline before it even his the ground, helping to prevent possible sparks that can start a wildfire.
SDG&E has brought together 40 different groups that are working together to make sure the right communication measures are in place in the event of an emergency situation. We maintain a strong relationship with state and local jurisdictions and agencies, like Cal OES and CAL FIRE, to develop plans and warning programs for emergency public notifications before, during and after a wildfire event.
Additionally, we work with over 560 nonprofit organizations to educate and prepare residents of our service territory about wildfire safety.
Have You Seen It?
For the last decade, we have operated an Aircrane that holds 2,650 gallons of water or fire suppressant – the equivalent of 5 fire engines! It can be airborne in 15 minutes and only takes 45 seconds to refill its tank. We work with first responders to deploy the use of this aircrane when needed, and during that time, it has made more than 820 water drops to protect homes, businesses and communities.