Pacific Gas & Electric

PG&E’s Kern division becomes the gold standard in UVM performance.

The Challenge

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is the nation’s largest electric utility, with over five million customers across California. PG&E maintains approximately 5,500 miles of high voltage lines in Kern County, CA, including the county seat of Bakersfield and surrounding rural areas.

In the early 2010s, PG&E began to look beyond their local contractor pool with a goal of improving program results in scheduling, forecast, and compliance. Based on the consistency of the tree-line interface in Kern Division, local PG&E operations believed they could make it the best performing vegetation management program in the entire system. When the pre-inspection contract came up for renewal, the decision was made to bring in Davey Resource Group, Inc. (DRG) to realize their mission.

The Solution

At the onset of the project, DRG managers and PG&E’s local leadership developed a strategy to institute changes in workflows and team culture that would improve performance measures and results.

DRG’s first objective was to initiate a program of regular training on procedures, expectations, and client priorities that all team members could easily buy into. DRG managers worked on-site with both clients and employees and remained available to answer questions and solve problems. Monthly team planning sessions were expanded to include additional training on program objectives, revised PG&E procedures, and safety culture.

DRG instituted a number of additional measures to improve quality control and performance metrics in the field. Focus was placed on improved quality control measures, procedural compliance, and more effective work forecasting and planning; resulting in improved results in all areas.

And perhaps most importantly to PG&E, the team worked to promote PG&E’s Vegetation Management program as a community asset. The DRG team refocused efforts on customer satisfaction in their fieldwork as well as organizing outreach events to share information about the benefits of the program with the public.

The Results

  • Compliance issues dropped steadily until a 100% compliance score was achieved.
  • Fluctuations in work forecasts and scheduling gave way to a consistent distribution of work throughout the year; enabling sustainable, productive, and on-schedule tree work.
  • Unit tree work stayed well within PG&E’s forecasted expectations, which enabled crews to effectively address an excessive number of dead and dying trees that resulted from extended drought conditions.
  • The relationship between DRG’s pre-inspection team and PG&E’s tree trimming contractors improved substantially, improving results for PG&E and their customers.

As a result of DRG’s focus on training, workflow efficiency, and quality control, the Kern Division became the gold standard in PG&E’s system for consistently on-schedule operations and near-perfect compliance scores.

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