Sempra’s commitment to climate resilience and innovation was commended last week when Gina McCarthy, the White House National Climate Advisor, toured San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s (SDG&E) Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Advisor McCarthy, along with Representative Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and Representative Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, received an update from Sempra and SDG&E leaders on their latest fire science and climate adaptation advancements.
Driving Resilient Operations
Sempra’s family of companies’ commitment to climate resilience, as well as its focus on safety, innovation and people, was lauded throughout the tour. Advisor McCarthy noted that with a 40-year tenure of government service she has seen many such facilities, but SDG&E’s is among the best she’s visited. “I’m extremely excited about what I’ve seen,” she said.
She also recognized that the company’s innovative approaches to advance climate resilience show courage, leadership, innovation, and creativity exemplifying the types of investments the administration seeks to advance. “These are all adaptations to our climate crisis that everyone should take a look at and start emulating,” Advisor McCarthy said.
Representatives Levin and Peters said wildfire mitigation model should be considered in establishing a national standard, especially given its innovative new methods of wildfire mitigation and detection. Representative Levin said that what SDG&E is doing to help mitigate fires “ought to be done everywhere.”
The SDG&E teams welcome Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor, Representative Scott Peters, and Representative Mike Levin
SDG&E, a Sempra operating company, has a long commitment to strengthening the region against a dynamic climate that has amplified high fire-threat conditions in recent years. SDG&E’s recent wildfire mitigation innovations for 2021 include the following, among other measures:
- A mobile power station with a 500kW set of lithium-ion batteries to help support the needs of customers impacted by a public safety power shutoffs (PSPS).
- A new private communications network under development to support advanced protection systems, like falling conductor protection and high-speed relays, and enable more efficient system communications.
- Enhanced infrastructure hardening with more than 150 miles of overhead lines planned to be hardened in 2021. Additionally, 25 miles of lines are planned to be strategically undergrounded to help keep communities and critical customers energized during a power shutoff.
- A virtual reality training program to help field workers run through different scenarios and learn how to quickly identify and efficiently respond to issues they may encounter in the field, including addressing potential wildfire risks.
- An updated weather network that will become the first in the state to include cameras that measure chlorophyll in vegetation and sensors that measure moisture content in the brush. The network is also expected to leverage satellites' latest remote sensing capabilities to detect, alert, and monitor wildfire activity from space.
- Expansion of SDG&E’s generator program. Medical Baseline customers who experienced a PSPS in 2020 have received or are being offered a portable renewable generator for future energy needs. Customers in the areas at greatest risk for wildfire have also been offered additional generator rebates.
- An expanded community partnership network with 2-1-1 San Diego and 2-1-1 Orange County, the American Red Cross, and the Inter-Tribal Long Term Recovery Foundation to disseminate critical wildfire preparedness information and helpful customer resources during a PSPS.
Advancing the Energy Transition
Each of Sempra’s operating companies is advancing the energy transition through energy infrastructure that enables the delivery of lower-carbon energy sources with an increasing focus on climate resilience.
Representative Peters, a member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, praised SDG&E for being a progressive utility, including the fact that it is delivering about 40% of its power from renewable sources.
SDG&E is also furthering the energy transition through its electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. There are approximately 60,000 EVs and 7,500 EV charging stations in SDG&E’s territory.
Advisor McCarthy noted that natural gas is expected to continue playing a role in the energy transition alongside renewable energy. Sempra’s natural gas infrastructure supports renewables by providing the flexibility for intermittent wind and solar resources to be seamlessly added to the grid without service interruptions to customers. Southern California Gas Co., another Sempra operating company, is working to utilize its existing infrastructure to advance hydrogen technology and has a goal of replacing 20% of the traditional natural gas delivered to its core customers with renewable natural gas by 2030.
On a global scale, through the Cameron LNG export facility, Sempra is playing a critical role in transitioning growing economies to reliable suppliers of natural gas in place of higher-carbon fuel sources, such as biomass, fuel oil and coal.
From innovations at Sempra’s California utilities to LNG infrastructure on the Gulf Coast, Sempra is committed to innovating and building critical energy infrastructure that is designed to be climate resilient and will support the needs of customers. Its operating companies are demonstrating that Sempra is making the critical infrastructure investments today in an effort to support the net-zero energy systems of tomorrow, and the work is bolstered by collaboration with government partners who share the same commitment.