Protective Equipment and Device Settings (PEDS)
Protective Equipment and Device Settings (PEDS) are advanced safety settings implemented by electric investor-owned utilities (IOUs) on electric utility powerlines to reduce wildfire.
PEDS are commonly known as “fast trip” settings and programs, which are utility programs intended to reduce wildfire risk by significantly increasing the sensitivity of protective devices and equipment that trigger automatic outages when a fault is detected. PEDS are defined in the 2023-2025 Wildfire Mitigation Plan technical guidelines issued by the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (OEIS) as “the electric corporation’s procedures for adjusting the sensitivity of grid elements to reduce wildfire risk, other than automatic reclosers (such as circuit breakers, switches, etc.).”
These settings allow the IOUs’ powerlines to automatically turn off power within seconds. If an object contacts a distribution line, or a fault occurs, protective devices such as circuit breakers, line reclosers, and fuse savers automatically shut off power within one-tenth of a second. This can occur when there is a hazard, such as a tree branch or object falling on the powerline. Circuit breaker specific settings provide some level of coordination between devices and line reclosers are used to safely and quickly de-energize powerlines when a problem is detected. A fuse saver provides faster response to faults than traditional fuses and can be enabled to operate in concert with fast trip protection schemes.
The electric utilities may reduce wildfire risk, but the new settings have also resulted in unplanned outages for which advance notification is not possible. The outages that result from these enhanced settings are not Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) where the utilities can provide advance notice for upcoming proactive de-energizations.
President Marybel Batjer’s October 25, 2021 letter to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) CEO Patricia Poppe outlined initial expectations and imposed requirements for PG&E to report its Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS) program performance. President Batjer’s letter is here. PG&E’s response is here and attachment.
The Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (OEIS) required the electric utilities to include information about PEDS in its 2023-2025 Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP) technical guidelines. In Section 8.1.8 “Grid Operations and Procedures,” the electrical corporations must discuss the ways in which they operate their system to reduce wildfire risk. The equipment settings discussion must include the following:
- Protective equipment and device settings
- Automatic recloser settings
- Settings of other emerging technologies (e.g., rapid earth fault current limiters)
For each of the above, the electrical corporation must provide a narrative on the following:
- Settings to reduce wildfire risk
- Analysis of reliability/safety impacts for settings the electrical corporation uses
- Criteria for when the electrical corporation enables the settings
- Operation procedures for when the settings are enabled
- The number of circuit miles capable of these settings
- An estimate of the effectiveness of the settings
Fast Trip and Unplanned Outages Workshop - March 2023
On March 17, 2023, the CPUC held a virtual workshop to discuss newly emergent concerns with the investor-owned utilities’ (IOU) electrical system reliability, focusing on utility fast trip programs. The Commission and public participants head from local governments, community choice aggregators, the Public Advocates’ Office, and California’s three large IOUs – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) – regarding reliability concerns associated with extreme climate-driven events. The workshop focused on the utilities’ fast trip programs, which are designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires by automatically de-energizing powerlines struck by foreign objects. The workshop also included discussion of other types of outages (both planned and unplanned, including Public Safety Power Shutoffs), as well as distribution system reliability issues and impacts of these outages on customers.
PG&E Monthly EPSS Reports to SED
- November 2023 and Attachment
- October 2023 and Attachment
- September 2023 and Attachment
- August 2023 and Attachment
- July 2023 and Attachment
- June 2023 and Attachment
- May 2023 and Attachment
- April 2023 and Attachment
- March 2023 and Attachment
- February 2023 and Attachment
- January 2023 and Attachment
- PG&E Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings November & December Monthly Metric Update (January 25, 2023)
- December 2022 and Attachment
- November 2022 and Attachment
- October 2022 and Attachment
- September 2022 and Attachment
- August 2022 and Attachment
- July 2022 and Attachment
- June 2022 and Attachment
- May 2022 and Attachment
- April 2022 and Attachment
- February 2022 and Attachment
- January 2022 and Attachment
Overview of IOU Fast Trip Programs
PG&E – Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS)
PG&E first implemented a pilot version of its EPSS program in 2021 across 11,500 miles of distribution circuits in High Fire Threat Districts (HFTD). In 2022, PG&E expanded the scope of its EPSS program to cover all circuits in the HFTD and select HFTD-adjacent areas. PG&E stated it will expand and refine its EPSS program in 2022 to address reliability impacts and enhance customer outreach and support. Efforts to reduce customer impacts include targeted vegetation clearing to prevent branch and tree fall-ins, dedicated crews for restoration and response, and increased communication between devices to reduce the size of outages.
The CPUC's Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) is gathering information for the PG&E EPSS program and will conduct oversight of the EPSS program through monthly reporting by PG&E and monthly meetings with PG&E in order to ensure PG&E is analyzing trends and prioritizing system hardening to mitigate the impacts of EPSS.
SCE – Fast Curve Settings
In 2018, SCE initiated a program to deploy fast curve settings at substation circuit breaker relays and automatic reclosers and developed a plan for upgrading non-compatible and older vintage electromechanical and microprocessor relays for feeder circuits in high fire risk areas between 2020-2024.
SDG&E – Sensitive Relay Profile (SRP)
SDG&E has been using Sensitive Relay Profile (SRP) settings since ~2010. When extreme fire weather conditions or PSPS events are forecasted, SDG&E remotely enables SRP on its system; SRP includes settings which make protective devices such as reclosers and circuit breakers more sensitive to faults on the overhead distribution system and activate quickly to interrupt power. SDG&E pre‐identifies and maintains a list of these devices and can quickly communicate with its distribution operations control center to enable SRP when conditions warrant and in observance of wildfire safety efforts.