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Safety and Innovation Lead the Way at San Diego Gas & Electric

“Safety and innovation are one and the same.”

That was among the opening remarks delivered by San Diego Gas & Electric personnel during the recent Safety Innovation Tour held at the utility’s Skills Training Center in the Serra Mesa neighborhood of the city.

And certainly, SDG&E continues to focus on thinking and moving forward in ways that will help to bolster the safety of both their workers and the public. That was apparent throughout the tour – a highlight of the most recent iP Utility Safety Conference & Expo ( – during which nearly 100 conference attendees visited various stations at the training center intended to educate them about the cutting-edge facility and SDG&E’s public safety innovations.

Five Stations
Kicking off with a safety briefing, the tour took attendees on foot through five different areas of the training center’s campus: Skills City/Gas Operations; Apprentice Program/Industrial Athletic Strength & Training Program; Emergency Response & Command Vehicles/Equipment; Fire Mitigation; and Fire Climatology/Meteorology.

At the Skills City/Gas Operations station, attendees were introduced to the gas side of the business. As most of those who were on the tour work for electric utilities, this offered attendees the chance to learn about “the other side of the business.” One highlight was having the opportunity to inspect the handful of small houses on the property used during gas leak detection and other training exercises.

Attendees also had the chance to meet two of the utility’s industrial athletes at the Industrial Athletic Strength & Training Program station. SDG&E employs several industrial athletes to collaborate with workers, helping them train their bodies to both prevent injuries and recover from any they may incur. A few steps away, one of the utility’s staff trainers provided an overview of SDG&E’s pre-apprentice and apprentice lineworker programs.

A host of vehicles were on display at the Emergency Response & Command Vehicles/Equipment station, including a mobile cell tower, a mobile command trailer – which tour attendees were able to walk through – and an incident support vehicle. A drone had also been deployed and was visible in the air at this station. Having these and other state-of-the-art vehicles and pieces of equipment in the SDG&E fleet allows the utility to more effectively respond to emergencies, from wildfires to earthquakes and mudslides.

Housed in two trailers located next to each other, the Fire Mitigation and Fire Climatology/Meteorology stations offered insights into how SDG&E proactively approaches one of the greatest environmental threats they face in their service area: wildfires.

Behind the Scenes
The Safety Innovation Tour at SDG&E’s Skills Training Center was initially made possible with the assistance of Jeff Clemons, CUSP, who serves on the board of the Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network ( and as a program manager in SDG&E’s Contractor Safety Services group.

“I attended the iP Utility Safety Conference a few years ago when it was in Vancouver, Washington, and during that conference, the attendees visited the nearby Bonneville Power Administration facility,” Clemons said. “We got to see climbing and electrical equipment demonstrations that were very beneficial to add value to the conference’s classroom sessions.”

Since the Fall 2023 conference was to be held in San Diego, Clemons approached Incident Prevention staff about planning a similar tour at the SDG&E Skills Training Center, conveniently located about a 10-minute drive from the safety conference venue.

“Much like the Bonneville Power visit, the idea was to give the conference attendees a chance to see field applications of equipment and work practices that had been discussed in many of the conference’s educational sessions, as well as give them insight as to what different field programs SDG&E has developed,” Clemons said.

Once Incident Prevention staff were on board with the tour idea, Clemons contacted SDG&E’s Skills Training Center management to see if they would be open to facilitating it. “After getting the nod from SDG&E, I got Incident Prevention staff together with Lena Fotland, the Skills Training Center manager, and her committee to iron out the details.”

The event turned out to be a win-win for all parties involved. According to Clemons, “It was a great way to not only give the conference attendees some great instruction regarding field application, but it’s also an opportunity to showcase your company. SDG&E employees take great pride in their organization with what they’ve accomplished, and these field visits give them the chance to express their knowledge and experience with people from all across the country.”

Clemons also said he’s “heard back from many tour attendees and people who were in attendance, and the feedback has been similar across the board: cutting-edge, visionary, professional, knowledgeable – a great experience.”

And according to Amanda Meisner, a project manager for SDG&E who worked on the event’s planning committee, “The tour was so much fun and very effective from our perspective. Participants seemed engaged and wanting to collaborate with us in the future.”

Anyone who’d like to learn more about the information covered during the tour and/or the cutting-edge safety work SDG&E is doing is encouraged to email the utility at

Photos Courtesy of SDG&E



Kate Wade

Kate Wade is the managing editor of Utility Fleet Professional and Incident Prevention magazines. She has been employed by Utility Business Media Inc. since 2008.