Thursday, August 5, 2021

PG&E Activates 'Islanding' Mode Due to Fires

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2021 at 1:04 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt Bay Power Plant. - YULIA WEEKS
  • Yulia Weeks
  • Humboldt Bay Power Plant.
Due to the Monument and McFarland fires in Trinity County, PG&E has shut off power from the main grid and isolated the Humboldt Bay Generating Station, a process known as "islanding," to power parts of the region, although some customers in Willow Creek, Burnt Ranch, Salyer and areas of southern Trinity County are without power.

PG&E reconfigured the plant last year to allow the option of operating separately from the main grid and provide enough power to keep the lights on in 20 cities and towns in the region. The move came in response to the devastating Public Safety Power Shutoffs of 2019 that thrust millions across the state into the dark for days, putting the medically fragile at risk and wreaking economic havoc.

"By doing this, we are able to ensure sustained service to approximately 67,000 customers who might otherwise be impacted due to the fire threat near transmission lines that serve cities and towns in Humboldt and Northern Mendocino Counties (including Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Fortuna and some tribal communities)," the release states.


According to the release, PG&E Safety and Infrastructure Protect Team (SIPT) crews have been pre-treating utility poles in advance of the fires. To protect equipment from the McFarland Fire, PG&E SIPT has pretreated a total of 209 transmission and distribution wooden poles. To protect equipment from the Monument Fire, to date, PG&E SIPT has pretreated a total of 30 distribution and transmission assets in the communities around Del Loma, Willow Creek and Big Bar.

Read PG&E's full press release below.

The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is PG&E’s most important responsibility.  PG&E is working with first responders as they fight the Monument and McFarland Fires in Trinity County.  Crews are working to restore power safely and as quickly as possible to approx. 241 customers located in Willow Creek, Burnt Ranch and Salyer areas in Humboldt and Trinity Counties.  The Monument Fire originally impacted electric service to 1,308 customers in those areas.  There are currently no power outages in Mendocino County related to these fires.

PG&E has de-energized electric transmission lines in the area and proactively switched the power source from the grid to the local power plant, the Humboldt Bay Generating Station (HBGS).  Approx. 747 customers in the Low Gap area of Southern Trinity County are also currently on temporary generation after PG&E proactively de-energized the line feeding the Low Gap substation along Highway 36, due to the McFarland Fire.

Known as “islanding,” the re-configuring of the HBGS allows portions of Humboldt County and the Northern tip of Mendocino County to be separated from the larger grid and energized exclusively from HBGS when transmission sources that import, export and stabilize power to nearby areas are impacted.

By doing this, we are able to ensure sustained service to approximately 67,000 customers who might otherwise be impacted due to the fire threat near transmission lines that serve cities and towns in Humboldt and Northern Mendocino Counties (including Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Fortuna and some tribal communities).

This action is similar to what PG&E did last fire season during some Public Safety Power Shutoff events to maintain service for customers in that area. (NOTE: THIS IS NOT A PSPS).  You can see a map of the islanding capabilities here: Humbolt-Bay-Generating-Station-Island-Fact-Sheet.pdf (pge.com)

PG&E Safety and Infrastructure Protect Team (SIPT) crews have also been pre-treating utility poles in advance of the fires.  To protect equipment from the McFarland Fire, PG&E SIPT has pretreated a total of 209 transmission and distribution wooden poles.  To protect equipment from the Monument Fire, to date, PG&E SIPT has pretreated a total of 30 distribution and transmission assets in the communities around Del Loma, Willow Creek and Big Bar.

We thank our customers for their patience.

In addition, the public can view smoke of the two fires from PG&E’s Hayfork2 camera and two other PG&E HD Wildfire Cameras.  We are installing 135 high-definition cameras in high fire-threat areas this year as we continue to build toward our goal of 600 total by 2022. When we reach our 2022 goal, we will have the ability to see more than 90% of the high fire-risk areas we serve.  Our Wildfire Safety Operations Center staff use the cameras to monitor and respond to wildfires.

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Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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