Silicon Valley Power recognized as a top utility in reliability

Safety and reliability are always our highest priorities. Our success in these two key RP3 Award 2019areas was recently recognized when we were designated as a Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) at the Gold Level by the American Public Power Association during the Association’s annual Engineering & Operations Conference. This designation, which lasts for three years, acknowledges public power utilities that excel in four major areas of operation: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. It is a high honor that reflects our continued commitment to our customers and employees, as well as our leadership in the Santa Clara community.

We are proud to have earned our place as a top-tier public power utility. We will continue to strive for the same standard of excellence in all areas of our organization. To further this mission, we recently developed our 2018 Strategic Plan. With help from our community, customers, City Council and City executive leadership, we outlined our objectives for the next 10 years. The plan paves the way for our team to continue providing safe, reliable service to our customers. It will also guide us as we develop innovative and sustainable solutions to any challenges we may face. Our Strategic Plan will enable the growth we need to continue standing out as a top-tier public power entity.


Keeping It in the Family: Growing A Career and a Community Network at SVP

Working in the utility sector runs in Shreya Kodnadu’s family. Growing up, Shreya machu picchu - shreya solovisited substations and generation facilities in Bangalore, India, where her father worked. She took this passion with her to her undergraduate studies in Bangalore and then to Washington State University in 2010, where she received her master’s degree. Then, after more than three years as a protection engineer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Washington, and a stint at Pennsylvania Power and Light, Shreya joined SVP in 2016 as a protection electrical engineer.

At SVP, Shreya works on programming and testing protective relays and analyzing power outage data. In her daily role, Shreya performs power system studies, compiles data to makes complex calculations and analyses, and troubleshoots problems with utility equipment and facilities. She loves that her job focuses on safety, reliability and helping the community. Shreya explained, “My favorite part of the job is working for the community. I can make a difference and see how my work directly affects Santa Clara residents and businesses.”

With the strong relationships Shreya has built at SVP, she is happy to be a part of the SVP family. “Not only is SVP serving Santa Clara residents and businesses, but I really enjoy the tight‑knit community at work. I continue to learn from and enjoy the company of my amazing colleagues. Collectively we work toward the same mission. That is why I love coming to work every day.”

When Shreya is not at work, she enjoys traveling and exploring the great outdoors. Shreya shared, “I love taking advantage of the outdoors, both locally and abroad. In 2015, my husband and I went on a six‑day backpacking trip to Machu Picchu, Peru, and I loved every moment. We look forward to our next backpacking adventure in Patagonia this winter.”

How will renewable power affect the reliability of your electricity?

Reliability’ describes how often power outages happen and how quickly the power Wind farm - with logocomes back on. Today, Santa Clara has a high overall system reliability that is aided by our diverse power mix.

What happens when renewable power is added? For utilities and state operators, maintaining reliability will become more complex. Renewable electricity can come from small energy producers in many different locations. For instance, each home with a solar rooftop system produces energy that affects the grid. This can make planning for a steady supply of electricity difficult.

However, even with a more complex process, we will continue providing the same reliable power you expect. Our team is exploring new technologies and processes, like energy storage, that will help us adopt a cleaner power mix and maintain high‑quality service.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the body that manages California’s electric grid, is in charge of planning how renewables will flow on the grid. CAISO is currently testing tools such as demand response, a larger regional power market to balance electricity flow and energy storage to support this increase in renewables.

Utilities will be a key part of this change. Utility employees will need to develop new skills and styles of teamwork. They will also need to use new automation tools to support renewable power and manage the flow of electricity. Operators will watch automated models, check for correctness and take over manually when needed. The process will look like a pilot flying a modern commercial plane, using automation for most of the flight.

Adopting renewables helps us secure a clean future, but the process requires a careful balance in our operations. Our team is dedicated to managing the process while focusing on our customers’ needs. Visit our website for more information on reliability and our power mix.

EnergyAlert Keeps Businesses in Santa Clara Informed

Transmission lines with wind turbines in the backgroundWhen you’re at home blow‑drying your hair or cooking with an electric grill and the lights dim for a second as you plug in these devices, the electrical capacity available to the lighting in your home is briefly decreased due to the number of high-wattage appliances in use at the same time. A similar process occurs on a much grander scale when there is a short circuit on the transmission grid, reducing the voltage below where it should be for a split second and causing commercial production to stop or glitch. In Santa Clara, this affects data centers, businesses who work with critical materials in technology and production, and other large‑scale operations that have extensive power requirements.

While power quality events only happen a few times a year today, these incidents used to be much more frequent in the South Bay region, occurring up to 20‑25 times per year. To address this, nearly 20 years ago our team launched EnergyAlert, a notification system that informs local businesses 24/7 when a power quality event occurs. This information allows customers to respond quickly during an event and take action to minimize disruptions to their operations.

Visit our website for more information on EnergyAlert and how the program has supported Santa Clara businesses for decades.

Your local power grid – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

No one likes an unexpected surprise like a car breakdown or a heater that suddenly stops working. That’s why most of us do preventative maintenance on our cars and home. It’s the same logic and due diligence that we apply when we perform inspections on our equipment and repair or replace items like power poles when needed.

Many of our power poles and cross arms have held up for more than 40 years, but it’s time to be sure they remain up to the job of reliably carrying electricity to our customers. We’ve contracted with Osmose Utilities Services to perform inspections on all of our power poles over the next five years to improve reliability and perform preventative maintenance.

Customers affected by this important effort are being notified by letter several weeks prior to work in their area. In some cases Osmose will need to access backyards to perform the inspection. We know privacy is very important, so as a courtesy Osmose will first knock on the door to let you know they need to enter your property. If no one answers the door, Osmose will enter the backyard and perform the power pole inspection. If the gate is locked and inspectors cannot access the power pole, they’ll leave a door hanger asking for you to contact SVP with a time to complete the inspection.

Working hours are 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Friday and each inspection can take 20-40 minutes. Residents may also see SVP crews in neighborhoods for Saturday appointments. Osmose inspectors will have identification indicating they are a contractor for the City of Santa Clara. It’s always a good idea to ask to see the ID, or call us if you are unsure.

We‘re doing everything possible to minimize the impact of this critical maintenance work and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience this might cause. Customers with questions or concerns are welcome to contact us at (408) 244-7283.

This work increases the reliability of your power. As with a car or a home, we feel that it is wise to inspect, maintain and/or repair equipment rather than wait until there’s a problem that could have been prevented.

The Powerful Back Story: Behind the Scenes at Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 has quickly become legendary due to the remarkable success of game day SB 50 with logo_resizeditself as well as the preliminary activities leading up to the game. Who didn’t like the incredible halftime show, Blue Angels and star-studded program? OK, the game wasn’t so great but it was only part of the spectacle.

While fans at the stadium and television viewers may have reveled in the entertainment and atmosphere, few people know how much planning and work went into making sure that everything went according to plan. Here are just a few of the highlights and stats of the post-game recap.

Steady Power at Levi’s Stadium

Even with a nationwide reputation for reliable power, we were reminded of the power outages that struck previous Super Bowl and NFL playoff games. The stadium power performed without a hitch.

Backstory: Imagine our surprise when the celebratory confetti released by the NFL at the end of the game contained shiny metallic strips that can cause problems if they contact electrical equipment. We had already isolated non-essential power equipment in the areas where the confetti was distributed and therefore had no problems.

We have redundancy built into the power grid for all Santa Clara customers, meaning that a problem in one neighborhood or area can often be solved pretty quickly by re-routing electricity to other power lines. Levi’s Stadium, like many large commercial customers, was backed up by more than one circuit ready to handle any power problems. While power could be restored in seconds in the event of an outage, we like to remind fans that the lights for the stadium would take several minutes to attain full brightness if power is interrupted. Some stadiums have addressed that issue by using recently approved LED lights which power up immediately.

Outside the Stadium

Officials were extremely vigilant about possible situations that might inadvertently impact the power supply.

Backstory: The weather really cooperated, which took a lot of the pressure off.SB 50 stadium with logo_resized

Before the game, one of our officials noticed that a wooden pallet was covered with a plastic sheet that was flapping and could conceivably come loose if the wind came up and fly into power lines. The plastic was secured. That same person also noted that the halftime entertainment stage was being prepared outside the stadium under some power lines and warned Super Bowl workers to avoid having metallic helium balloons anywhere near the area.

Social Media Gone Berserk 

The San Jose Mercury News reported that a Super Bowl record 10 terabytes of data were consumed during the game. This was primarily due to fans’ text, video, cell phone and social media activity.

Backstory: To get an idea of how much data this is, according to the Simply Ted information blog 10 terabytes is the amount of storage you’d need to:

  • store everything –everything – you looked at in a year
  • store 5 million digital camera photos
  • fill 2.5 billion pages printed both sides and stacked over 100 miles high (that’s about 500,000 trees worth of paper)

That’s a LOTTA Hot Dogs 

Concessionaires at Levi’s Stadium said 26,000 hot dogs and sausages were sold along with 8,000 glasses of wine, and the 71,088 fans spent an average of about $87 each on food and beverages. That’s second only to the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey where fans spent $94 each. By the way, Super Bowl numbers revert to Roman numerals starting this coming NFL season.

Backstory: ESPN went even deeper, saying 1,000 vegan hot dogs and 500 vegan BBQ sandwiches (made out of jackfruit) were sold. Fans bought 60,000 beverages in souvenir cups.