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Most Generator Use Ever By PG&E During Butte Fire

Linnea Edmeier / Capital Public Radio

PG & E mobile emergency generation site, Pine Grove, California. Crews tied into the nearby substation, seen in this photo, to restore power after the Butte Fire destroyed power grid infrastructure.

Linnea Edmeier / Capital Public Radio

As part of its response to power outages caused by the Butte Fire, Pacific Gas and Electric deployed mobile generators capable of producing 21 megawatts of power.

Curt Schmidt with PG&E says during the fire, 15,000 customers had power because of the generators.

"We knew the whole circuit was out. They figured out how many megawatts of load that was required and then we built the primary generation to actually exceed the load so if the one generator was to fail, we still had surplus," he says. 

The generators were housed in tractor trailers and were connected to the Pine Grove and West Point substations.

Schmidt says the switch back to the main line from the generators was nearly seamless.

"They really got their ducks in a row with this. In the middle of the night, they did a one-minute drop and pickup affecting all the customers," he says. "But, it was the middle of the night and nobody saw the lights blink unless they were awake."

This is the largest deployment of generator power for an outage in the utility's history.

They were in service for five days in Pine Grove and almost two days in West Point.  

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