Using big data to drive improvements

Innovation Spotlight: Using Big Data and Predictive Analytics to Head off Problems

An energy company of the future is built upon a data driven infrastructure. We can be more effective and predict future outcomes with the right information. While wind driven wildfires are the No. 1 threat to our electric system, severe weather is a close second.


That’s why we’ve built the largest utility-owned weather network in America. Our network of 177 weather stations is strategically placed throughout communities in our region to track constantly changing conditions.


Co-located cameras attached to over 100 of these weather stations combine to create a state-of-the-art network for fire conditions and ignition detection. These efforts have been recognized as industry best practices.


Modeling the Future

Our meteorologists with expertise in fire science and climate adaptation are constantly analyzing data from the weather stations and providing microclimate forecasts to our electric system operators and local fire agencies.


They invented a public safety tool called the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service and UCLA. SAWTI, as it’s known, leverages cutting-edge fire science to classify the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires during Santa Ana wind conditions. This helps first responders, our field crews and the public plan their response based on how severe the threat is.


Our meteorologists also created the Fire Potential Index (FPI) using the weather data and vegetation moisture content to rate the daily fire potential across the region. The FPI is shared with local fire agencies, giving them a seven-day outlook to the potential for fires.


Improving Data Accuracy through Automation

Automation has improved our outage data quality, an area that has traditionally relied on multiple employee actions. With our Reliability Reporting Modernization Project, the outage data transfer process is now automated. This new system increases data accuracy and removes the potential for human error. 


Next up is our Modernization of Outage Reporting – a project that will bring the workflow from several systems into one IT supported software suite. We’ll also get faster access to information on emerging outage trends, allowing us to be more proactive in addressing infrastructure issues that impact our customers.


Predictive Analytics Helping to Prevent Problems


When it comes to the key performance metrics on our more than 300 substation power transformers, we’re ahead of the curve. And we’re using predictive analytics throughout our power grid to minimize outages in the future.


Recently, monitors that track the performance of a power transformer at our Granite substation detected an anomaly. Failing internal parts started to heat up, which caused the release of a specific chemical gas. Advanced monitors detected this and sent automated alarms to SDG&E service technicians. Fixing the problem before the device completely failed saved  millions in replacement costs and prevented a power outage to the over 26,000 customers served by that particular substation.


The end goal is to socialize this approach by connecting our various data sources and systems to seamlessly manage the hundreds of thousands of devices and structures that support the electric grid.


Creating the building blocks for a modernized grid that provides our customers with reliable power. That’s what we’re doing here at SDG&E today, tomorrow and in the years to come.


More Information

Learn more about our innovations at