A common misconception when people think of the electric grid is that it’s a single mechanical structure. Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly when it comes to Southern California Edison’s (SCE) expansive infrastructure, which stretches across 50,000 square miles of Southern and Central California.
SCE is always working to improve the grid, but it isn’t a wholesale change. The company constantly maintains and improves the grid, one pole or transformer at a time. It’s something SCE has done since the utility first turned the lights on in Visalia more than 150 years ago.
“The company is taking the long view with grid-improvement projects,” said Ed Antillon, SCE director of Distribution, Construction and Maintenance. “Customers may not realize or notice the benefits of our work right away, but that’s OK. By making upgrades today, it will help with reliability issues in the coming decades.”
This month, the company is continuing its centuries-long commitment to grid improvement with key projects in Santa Ana and Inglewood. By the first week of July, SCE crews will be finishing the project in Santa Ana where they are replacing more than three miles of underground cable and other equipment that amount to about $2 million in upgrades. Parts of Inglewood will see similar improvement work with two miles of underground cable replacement and other vault equipment upgrades of almost half a million dollars.
“Most of the grid improvement work happens at the local level,” said Antillon. “You see new solar panels popping up in every Southern California neighborhood, so we have to be prepared for the intermittency of renewable energy and its impact on the local grid.”
In the next few years SCE plans to invest billions of dollars to strengthen its system-wide grid, which serves nearly 14 million people, making the grid safer and more reliable. The work in Inglewood and Santa Ana are just two of the many infrastructure-improvement projects planned.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Antillon said. “We’re making huge strides with the number of projects that have been scheduled in the coming year. It’s going to be like this for the foreseeable future and through most of this decade.
He added, “So whether you see us in your community next month or next year, you’ll be getting well acquainted with our guys at some point as we improve the grid — neighborhood by neighborhood, circuit by circuit."