Wildfire Mitigation & Pole Replacement Programs
All California utilities have been challenged to upgrade their systems to prevent wildfire ignition and increase resiliency during wildfires. Some investor-owned utilities, in particular, have come under scrutiny after company-owned equipment was suspected of sparking wildfires. As a result, a large volume of distribution infrastructure required analysis and upgrading over a short period of time to meet California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) requirements.
During a trial period in 2018, EN completed 80 pole replacements and new business projects for a large investor-owned utility over seven months. The process for these projects involved field noting poles, pole loading analysis using O-Calc, and use of proprietary tools and GIS, all while following CPUC, client, and General Order 95 standards for design.
In some areas with high fire risk, the client required overhead-to-underground conversions. Additionally, these projects include joint use applications – working with communication companies and others to assure compliance.
After the trial period, the client was happy with our performance and asked EN to prepare to meet the growing needs of their fire hardening activities. The client developed a plan that required EN to mobilize a 45-person team to meet the upcoming workload, including 1,200 pole/feeder locations.
Even though EN had only recently started performing pole replacement work for the client, we were able to mobilize a team to support the workload. As EN has continued to successfully execute projects within the client’s wildfire hardening workstreams, our workload has continued to grow over the past three years. To date, EN has completed approximately 4,000 pole replacements and designed 90 miles of medium voltage electric distribution, including overhead reconductoring and undergrounding through High Fire Threat Districts (HFTD).