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January 21, 2021

PG&E Deploys Palantir’s Foundry Platform

George Leopold

Pacific Gas and Electric, the embattled California utility plaguing its customers with rolling blackouts and other indignities, is turning to data integration and analytics giant Palantir Technologies to help restore safety and reliability to the Golden State’s crumbling utility infrastructure.

PG&E said this week Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) will help streamline the utility’s data management functions in hopes of improving operations and protecting the utility’s far-flung assets. It has begun deploying Palantir’s Foundry platform designed to integrate data management with analytics.

PG&E said the integrated platform would provide its grid managers with a “real-time, complete operational picture.” An early use case involves using the Foundry platform to support PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program designed to cut power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires.

PG&E did not disclose contract details, saying only the partnership with Palantir is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement. It also represents the first time Palantir’s Foundry platform has been used by a major U.S. utility.

PG&E said it will expand the data management effort to “inform asset risk and outage investigation, eventually bringing in data from all aspects of the company’s operations to enable enterprise analytics and process improvement.”

“Our engagement with California’s largest investor-owned utility underlines our commitment to increasing safety and reliability for customers and communities across the region,” said Olivier Farache, head of Palantir’s utility sector.

The integration of Palantir’s platform into utility operations is the latest example of using big data technologies to upgrade aging and vulnerable power grids. Other approaches include using machine vision tools to monitor transmission lines and towers vulnerable to—and often the source—of California’s wildfires.

Unlike the PG&E-Palantir partnership, those efforts focus on detecting and extinguishing wildfires, rather than merely responding to a conflagration.

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