• Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

    Reality Modeling in Bentley Substation

    San Francisco, California, United States

Project Summary

Project: Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) owns and operates more than 1,000 transmission and distribution substations, spanning two-thirds of California. The substation engineering department has struggled to handle the volume of projects, given the push to modernize the electric grid. With 95 percent of its USD 1 billion substation budget spent on brownfield locations, PG&E had been manually converting existing 2D drawings to 3D models for use on retrofit projects.

Solution: PG&E replaced the traditional design process with reality modeling by deploying a combination of photographic techniques using unmanned aerial vehicles, man lifts, and on-ground equipment. Using Bentley’s ContextCapture software, the team generated highly accurate reality meshes that were integrated into Bentley Substation for intelligent 3D design of upgrades, then shared among design teams through ProjectWise, which is used as the central repository.

Outcome: Using reality modeling with ContextCapture instead of manually converting 2D drawings, PG&E expects to reduce 3D modeling costs by 50 percent. The automatically generated reality meshes are accurate within inches and eliminate the need to take field measurements. As a result, personnel travel to and from the substation facilities half as often. With the adoption of Bentley Substation, PG&E reduced project design time by 40 percent and saved an estimated USD 5.7 million across about 120 substation projects each year.

Software: Using drone imagery, ContextCapture generated a 3D engineering-ready reality mesh that was then consumed in Bentley Substation, enabling 3D intelligent designs. PG&E also uses ContextCapture to generate a reality mesh of the terrain, producing a quick and low-cost digital terrain model without a full land survey. It can also process images of substation assets, which can be categorized, inventoried, and used to plan condition-based maintenance. ProjectWise helps keep all content in one place and allows effective collaboration among different groups or disciplines.

Project Playbook: Bentley Descartes, Bentley Substation, ContextCapture, MicroStation, ProjectWise

Outcome/Facts
  • PG&E expects to reduce 3D modeling costs by 50 percent using reality modeling with ContextCapture instead of manually converting 2D drawings.
  • ContextCapture generated a 3D engineering-ready reality mesh using drone imagery, which was then consumed in Bentley Substation, enabling 3D intelligent designs.
Quote:
  • “Having a complete 3D model at the time of constructability review allows us to measure electrical and physical clearance in real time, which helps eliminate costly conflicts during construction phases. With today’s increasing substation complexity and decreasing substation footprint, having a 3D model is a must.”

    Ralph Hansen Construction Supervisor Pacific Gas & Electric Company