OMICRON Magazine

Magazine | Issue 1 2022 Justin Henson has been a Distribution Line Technician (DLT) Specialist for the last 4 years in his 20-year employment at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). He talked to us about how PG&E has invested in equipment and educated their employees to help prevent future wildfires. He also discussed his job and responsibilities as a DLT Specialist. PG&E is a private utility founded in San Francisco over 100 years ago. Incorporated in California in 1905, it’s one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States today. PG&E is responsible for the transmission and delivery of energy to approximately 15 million people throughout a 70,000 mi² (181,300 km²) service area in northern and central California. They have more than 141,215 circuit miles (227,300 km) of electric lines that serve approximately 5.3 million customer accounts ranging from the furthest little house on the prairie to some of the world’s largest tech companies. Could you share your insight about a DLT’s responsibilities and your role as a DLT Specialist? Justin Henson: A DLT is responsible for maintaining all the pole-mounted, pad-mounted, and underground line control devices (LCD), such as line reclosers (LR), switches, interrupters, capacitors, and regulators. I call them the “Fab 5”. My job as the DLT Specialist is maintaining all the training, procedures, testing, and technical work management for the DLTs when it comes to LCDs. One of the major roles I take the most pride in is creating pre-commissioning test plans for PG&E’s distribution, protection, and automation LCD field equipment. What it all comes down to is that if we’re going to run a safe, reliable, and efficient distribution grid, not only are these test plans the means to achieving that goal, in some cases, they’re our last line of defense. Can you tell us more about PG&E’s LR implementation? We have a rich history of installing all kinds of electric LCDs in our distribution grid. Today, we have roughly 10,500 line reclosers or LRs in our system. Some of our earliest installations date back to the mid-1960s, and back then, we only installed a few per year. Today, we average roughly 500 new installations each year. These devices cover a variety of applications such as new business for expanding circuits, maintenance and upgrade programs, customer co-generation applications, and of course, our specialized projects related to wildfire risk programs. PG&E made headlines a few years ago during the California wildfires. How is PG&E’s LR deployment going to help reduce wildfires in the future? Great question, this is something we are passionate about. Since 2017, the beginning of some of the most destructive wildfires California has ever seen occurred, PG&E has made a commitment to our customers and the California Public Utilities Commission that we will do everything in our power to prevent wildfires. Part of that commitment was the accelerated installation of hundreds of additional SCADA sectionalizing devices each year for our Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program. «PG&E has made a commitment to our customers and the California Public Utilities Commission that we will do everything in our power to prevent wildfires.» Justin Henson, Distribution Line Technician (DLT) Specialist, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) 23