El Dorado Hills gets "Smart Grid" technology from PG&E
PG&E construction crews began work this month on a significant project of installing smart grid technology in El Dorado Hills to enhance the local electric system for its customers. Crews began installing intelligent switches on circuits in the commercial area north and south of Highway 50 between Saratoga Way and White Rock Road.
The project is expected to be completed by early March.
When an electrical outage occurs, these intelligent switches detect a short-circuit, block power flows to the affected area, communicate with other nearby switches as directed by a central computer, and then reroute power around the problem to keep as many customers energized as possible — all within five minutes.
“By installing these intelligent switches, we are dramatically reducing the amount of time it takes to restore power to our customers,” said Clay Schmidt, Energy Solutions and Service manager for PG&E. “Instead of waiting for a crew to arrive on scene and restore circuits manually, the new devices will do it automatically, or under the control of remote operators. This is one of the innovative ways PG&E is enhancing its electric system to provide safe, reliable and affordable service to our customers.”
PG&E is installing the intelligent switches as part of its system-wide Cornerstone Program, which was authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2010 with a budget of $366 million through 2013. Nearly half of the money will be used to help automate more than 400 of PG&E’s 3,200 electric distribution circuits, including multiple circuits in El Dorado County mainly in Placerville, Shingle Springs, Diamond Springs and El Dorado Hills.
Each year, PG&E invests more than a billion dollars on its electrical distribution infrastructure throughout Northern and Central California. Those investments have enabled PG&E to achieve its best outage record in 2011 for both the frequency and duration of outages.