September 17, 2020

Reducing the Risk of Wildfires and Increasing Access to Energy at SDG&E

Submitted by fp-admin on Mon, 08/31/2020 - 15:45
Shaping the Future

Across the Sempra Energy family of companies, we invest in state-of-the-art technologies, processes and infrastructure to drive our companies forward. In this Sempra Spotlight series, you’ll learn more about how we live our value, "shape the future."

As part of the Sempra Energy family of companies, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is committed to its goal of building the cleanest, safest and most reliable energy infrastructure company in America. Whether it’s leading the industry in wildfire safety or building the first flow battery connected to the California grid, innovation is always a top priority for SDG&E.

Wildfire Safety, Mitigation and Prevention

For more than a decade, SDG&E has been pioneering wildfire safety innovations, starting with building one of the largest utility-owned weather monitoring networks in the nation and leveraging artificial intelligence to help better predict which circuits are most prone to fires due to adverse weather conditions.

Since 2007, SDG&E has invested heavily in strengthening the power grid by replacing wood poles with steel poles, installing thicker and stronger wires, expanding partnerships with community-based organizations to enhance emergency preparedness, and supporting local fire agencies with additional helicopters to fight fires.

In 2019, SDG&E launched Fire Safe 3.0, a comprehensive fire safety and preparedness plan that builds on the safety procedures previously instituted by the utility. Initial innovations include maximizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve situational awareness, a new Vegetation Risk Index and satellite-enabled wildfire alerts.

Additionally, SDG&E opened a Fire Science and Innovation Lab in 2020. The lab brings together leading thinkers and problem solvers in academia, government and the community to create forward-looking solutions to help prevent wildfire ignitions, mitigate the impacts of wildfires in Southern California, and ultimately help build a more resilient region.

Convenient Charging for Electric Vehicles 

SDG&E is helping to reduce air and carbon pollution by expanding the charging infrastructure for all types of electric vehicles and equipment, ranging from personal cars and trucks to forklifts and school buses, to make it easier for people and businesses to transition to zero-emission transportation options.

Through its Power Your Drive program, SDG&E has installed more than 3,000 charging stations at 255 different locations throughout San Diego and south Orange counties, including workplaces, apartments and condominiums. Thanks in part to this program, Southern California is now home to about 43,000 electric vehicle charging stations in total—making it one of the most convenient places in America to drive electric.

Additionally, SDG&E has been spreading awareness of the increase in electric vehicle infrastructure and the benefits of switching to an electric vehicle through the annual San Diego Electric Vehicle Days, the largest EV test-driving event in the world.

Here's a quick overview of SDG&E's electric vehicle charging station initiative:

Efficient, Affordable and Renewable Energy Storage 

In 2017, SDG&E opened one of the country’s largest lithium battery energy storage facilities in Escondido, California.

This innovative energy storage technology is helping to enhance electric grid reliability and power quality and increase the use of renewable energy. Solar and wind-generated energy is stored in banks of batteries during off-peak hours, making it inexpensive to collect. When more energy is needed during periods of higher demand, the stored energy in the batteries can be released to the grid instantly.

This project helps make it possible to provide more power to the region, where and when it’s needed, while also helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This short video will take you behind the scenes of the lithium battery energy storage project:

Also, in 2019, SDG&E’s flow battery became one of the first batteries of its kind to get connected to the grid by the California Independent System Operator. At the Miguel substation in Bonita, California, SDG&E installed a flow battery system as part of a four-year project aimed at integrating more renewable energy sources into California’s grid.

The four-year pilot project is intended to test and evaluate ways to manage and maximize new storage technology on the grid, demonstrate the economics of flow batteries in the commercial wholesale market, provide flexibility, and integrate growing amounts of renewable energy, such as solar energy, onto the system.

Storage is seen as a vital resource to California meeting its sustainability target of getting 100% of its electricity from zero-carbon resources by 2045.

Thanks to the forward-thinking teams across our family of companies, Sempra Energy is advancing its mission to be North America’s premier infrastructure company by shaping the future of the energy industry.