Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric on June 17 filed with the California Public Utilities Commission electric reliability reports for a new $56 million electrification program in the San Joaquin Valley.

The program will replace propane and wood burning appliances with, in most homes, electric alternatives.

All-electric households would experience more significant impacts from electric outages as compared to households using propane or wood, PG&E said. So as homes go all-electric, grid reliability in those areas will become more critical.

SCE said it plans to improve reliability in the pro-gram’s eleven disadvantaged communities by introducing new distribution feeders in some areas. The feeders will help reduce the duration of outages, such as in California City, which experienced 27 electric outage events in 2018, according to SCE’s report.

SCE also plans to replace two deteriorated poles in the city of Ducor. The pole replacement project should reduce in-service failures poles and, in turn, power interruptions. Ducor experienced six electric outage events in 2018.

PG&E proposed two solutions to address the pro-gram’s reliability challenges: a single point of contact for pilot communities so that calls or emails to PG&E’s dedicated pilot lines will result in direct feed-back to the reliability manager responsible for each area where the pilot communities are located; ensure that all critical customers—typically schools and hospitals—in each pilot community are known to the electric grid operators and are able to inform their prioritization of dispatching crews to respond to outages.

When the CPUC approved the program in December 2018, CPUC President Michael Picker dissented, saying: “In a well-meaning desire to help people, this decision has extended the commission beyond its core competencies and its statutory directives and has created an overly complicated program that is likely to disappoint both its sponsors and intended beneficiaries. In approving this decision, the commission allowed itself to be flattered into taking on challenges outside of its expertise.”

Under the program, new appliances are set to be installed in customers’ homes in 2020.

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Staff Writer

David Krause is an energy reporter covering the California Energy Commission and Air Resources Board. He writes about transportation, climate change, utilities, and wildfires. He has an MFA in Writing, an MA in English, and a BS in Civil Engineering.