Electric System Hardening
Replacing overhead distribution power poles and overhead circuits
San Diego Gas & Electric’s highest priority is providing you with safe and reliable natural gas and electric service, which is why we have focused on wildfire prevention, preparation and response for more than a decade. The efforts, as outlined in our Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP), are tailored to strengthen the region’s energy resilience in the face of an ever-worsening climate. We’ve made significant investments in a variety of safety measures to help prevent catastrophic wildfires and reduce the impacts of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). Our commitment to our communities is to continue to enhance the safety and resiliency of our infrastructure, while advancing innovative technologies and weather forecasting capabilities.
About the Program
Launched in 2013, the Electric System Hardening program addresses wildfire risk by modernizing critical and aging infrastructure and implementing innovative technologies. This includes replacing wood power poles with fire-resistant steel poles and upgrading older overhead distribution lines with thicker and stronger and more resilient wire. The new lines are designed to withstand 85 mile-per-hour (mph) wind speeds and, in some specific cases, wind speeds up to 111 mph to reduce the risk of power failures and potential sparks by the electric system.
To date, we have replaced more than 26,000 wood poles with fire-resistant steel poles (called “hardening”) and have upgraded nearly 800 miles of overhead power lines in the areas at most risk for wildfires. Over the next 10 years, we plan to “harden” an additional 300+ miles of overhead lines. These improvements to the regional power grid will help enhance safety and resiliency, while also reducing the potential for power shutoffs and improving reliability during extreme weather conditions.
Our commitment to safety means maintaining our electrical system to meet applicable federal and state requirements, and we will always leave your neighborhood better than we found it.
What to Expect
As we work in your community and surrounding areas, expect to see SDG&E staff and authorized contractors performing job walks to assist with the design process. This level of data analysis is required to safely and efficiently prepare for construction work.
Visual assessment of current equipment
- SDG&E crews or authorized contractors will visually assess current equipment (poles, lines, conductors, etc.) and environmental conditions to assist with the design process
- This visual examination may require helicopters and/or drones, along with multiple visits to each pole location to collect data and take photos
- To minimize visits to each pole location, job walks require teams of up to 15 people from construction, design, engineering, environmental, survey and land services
After a job walk is completed, you may see markers that have been placed to identify the proposed new pole and anchor locations.
SDG&E construction crews and/or contractors will work safely and efficiently to minimize potential impacts to customers, including traffic delays, dust and noise.
Potential temporary power outages
Electric System Hardening activities may require us to temporarily shut off power to ensure our crews can work safely on these facilities. If a temporary outage is needed, SDG&E will contact impacted customers in advance of the planned outage.
What to expect during construction
- Crews will install new steel poles, overhead wires and other electric equipment
- Typical construction schedules may span several weeks to months depending on the size of the project, accessibility, weather and other factors
- In some areas, tree pruning or brush clearing may be required
- After crews have completed construction, our Post Construction Inspector will visit each pole to inspect and identify any items that need to be corrected by the construction team
- Typical inspection schedules span a few days and can include minor construction activities
- Once the inspection and any final construction work is complete, a final examination is performed using drones to capture photo and survey documentation
We’re leading the transition to a resilient, clean energy future. As energy demand and extreme weather threats increase, strengthening the energy grid is more important than ever. SDG&E’s Electric System Hardening program is one of the programs in our Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP) that helps strengthen our electric infrastructure in areas most prone to wildfires.
Launched in 2013, the Electric System Hardening program addresses wildfire risk by modernizing critical and aging infrastructure and implementing innovative technologies. This includes replacing wood power poles with fire-resistant steel poles and upgrading overhead distribution lines with stronger and more resilient wire. SDG&E® also started installing covered conductor wire in 2020. The new lines are designed to withstand 85 mile-per-hour (mph) wind speeds and, in some specific cases, wind speeds up to 111 mph to reduce the risk of failures and potential sparks by the electric system.
To date, we have replaced more than 26,000 wood poles with fire-resistant steel poles and have upgraded nearly 800 miles of overhead power lines in areas at most risk for wildfires. Over the next 10 years, we plan to upgrade more than 300 miles of overhead lines with covered and stronger conductor wire. These improvements to the resiliency of the regional power grid will help enhance safety, reduce the potential of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) and improve reliability during extreme weather conditions.
Activities near your property or residence include survey and site preparation activities and replacing existing conductor with stronger steel and aluminum wire that is also covered. Markers will be placed to identify the proposed new pole and anchor locations. Crews will perform the replacement work in your neighborhood in phases.
These teams will be on-site digging holes for the first few days. The installation of new poles and overhead line work will follow soon after. Both the former wood poles and upgraded steel poles may remain in place until crews can remove the wood poles from the site. SDG&E crews and our contractors will make every effort to minimize construction impacts on our customers. We work closely with design, construction and environmental experts to ensure we are respecting environmentally-sensitive areas and other site-specific concerns.
Crews will be installing new steel poles and overhead, covered conductor wires. Existing wood poles that do not have third-party communication lines (phone, cable, internet) will be removed promptly. Poles with third-party communication lines attached cannot be removed until these lines have been transferred to the new pole by the associated communication company. Tree pruning or brush clearing may be required on some jobs prior to work. After construction, inspections may be performed on foot or with drones and/or helicopters and additional repairs may be necessary. Some activities may require temporary outages to ensure crews can work safely. If a power outage is necessary, you will be contacted in advance.
Road damage is not anticipated; however, repairs will be made if needed.
Depending on the location of your property, your driveway may temporarily be inaccessible during construction. Our crews will notify you in advance should your access be impacted. Traffic control personnel will be on-site to ensure that you will be able to travel freely and safely. We appreciate our customers’ time and flexibility as we do this critical work in the most efficient way possible to reduce wildfire risk and keep your home and community safe.
Yes, if your property has unique requirements, locked gates, difficulty accessing roadways or sensitive livestock. We have an outreach team that can coordinate details with you. Please call 877-738-0580 and inform them of your circumstances.
Call SDG&E’s Project Information line at 877-738-0580.