PG&E upgrades Wildfire Safety Operations Center
SAN FRANCISCO — To help further reduce wildfire risk, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) recently completed significant upgrades to its Wildfire Safety Operations Center (WSOC).
The emergency center serves as PG&E’s 24/7 hub for monitoring wildfire risks and coordinating prevention and response efforts across Northern and Central California. It is located at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco and opened in May 2018 as an additional wildfire safety precaution.
The center provides a birds-eye view of PG&E high-fire threat areas, which encompass about 50 percent of the company’s 70,000-square-mile service area. The center also assimilates weather model information, satellite images and other enhanced, real-time data for experts tracking wildfire conditions and threats.
Additionally, data from PG&E’s network of nearly 440 weather stations, 40 high-definition cameras in high fire threat areas, and observations from PG&E field crews also are fed directly to WSOC employees. Data collected by the weather stations is available to state and local agencies and the public through online sources such as the National Weather Service and MesoWest. Images from the ALERTWildfire system are viewable online at www.alertwildfire.org.
“The newly completed upgrades to our Wildfire Safety Operations Center provide additional critical tools to enable our team of experts to monitor wildfire risks across our service territory,” said Sumeet Singh, PG&E vice president of the Community Wildfire Safety Program. “The Wildfire Safety Operations Center played a vital role as we considered and then subsequently initiated two Public Safety Power Shutoffs in June.”
PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center team plays a key role in evaluating whether to proactively turn off power for safety when elevated weather conditions include a potential fire risk.
While no single factor drives a Public Safety Power Shutoff, PG&E carefully reviews a combination of criteria. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
- Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below
- Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts more than
approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as
temperature, terrain and local climate
- Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
The Wildfire Safety Operations Center is part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, launched last year to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future.
In addition to improving real-time monitoring and intelligence capabilities at the Wildfire Safety Operations Center, other actions PG&E is taking as part of the program include new and enhanced safety measures and doing more over the long-term to strengthen the safety and resiliency of the electric grid to further reduce future wildfire risks. More information can be found at pge.com/wildfiresafety.