PG&E saves over 38 million dollars from Power Platform solutions and a Center of Excellence

In these “do more with less” blog posts, we share examples of customers who have utilized Microsoft Power Platform in their organization to gain significant time and cost savings through modern applications, automated processes, insightful analytics, and more.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), incorporated in California in 1905, is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. They adopted Power Platform including Power Automate (RPA), Power Virtual Agents, Power Apps and Dataverse in conjunction with Microsoft 365 to create over 60 solutions that have saved them 300K+ hours and 38.5 million US Dollars in two years and enabled over 1,300 digital creators. They solutions include a total of 2,000+ Power Apps applications and 4,200+ cloud flows. This article describes few examples of solutions that emerged after a strong foundation was put in place through their Digital Productivity Center of Excellence.

Establishing a center of excellence to scale success

Establishing a Center of Excellence early on was key to PG&E’s success in rapidly adopting Power Platform and deploying solutions. They engaged over 1,300 team members to build a “community of practice” and established a robust structure for support and growth. They have continued to work with citizen developers across the organization on a weekly basis to assist them with building solutions. “We’re bringing something I like to call ‘tech equity’ to enable everyone at PG&E to create and innovate solutions,” said Thomas Bilbo, Principal Product Owner at PG&E.

“With our community of Digital Creators, we’re enabling citizen development across the enterprise by touching base multiple times a month, providing regular training and hosting events that spur on innovation, and learning.”

— Thomas Bilbo, Principal Product Owner, PG&E

Looking ahead, PG&E is aiming to continue this strong growth by expanding Power Virtual Agents and Power BI, increasing the use of RPA solutions, accelerating new ideas through hackathons, hosting their first internal Power Platform conference, building an internal app catalog (App Pantry) with reusable components, and driving toward a goal of 2,700 PG&E employees being Digital Creators.


““We felt there was a ton of value to be had throughout our organization in terms of streamlining and automating a lot of low-value work, and re-dedicating people in the organization to doing high-value work. Our entire Executive Team is engaged in the success of this as well.”

— Mark Seveska, Executive Sponsor, IT Products and Enterprise Solutions, PG&E

Power Virtual Agent chatbot (“Peggy”) fulfills 40% of helpdesk queries and saves $830K

PG&E Technology Service Center (help desk) agents were burdened by fulfilling mundane and repetitive requests that led to increased wait times for workers and reduced overall productivity. 25%-40% of help desk demand is now fulfilled by Power Virtual Agents and Power Automate (desktop flows). This has significantly optimized agent workloads, provided sizeable labor savings and service level improvements, and given agents more time to focus on issues that required human intervention, thus improving the overall service level for their customers. They’ve saved over $830,000 US dollars from these optimizations.

Image of Power Virtual Agent bot "Peggy" being configured

First-Time Citrix Login dialog configured using Power Virtual Agent.

This initiative started when PG&E identified the need for a digital solution that would reduce the call volume of enquiries from employees to internal help desk agents. They envisioned an interactive chatbot as a solution for employees to fulfill requests on their own. They used Power Virtual Agents to build the chatbot and gave it a friendly name “Peggy” as a word play on “PG&E”. The goal was to encourage employees to “talk to Peggy”. Peggy would directly answer their questions or redirect them to a specific resource.

An example of “Peggy” in action is with assisting new users to login into Citrix for the first time. By utilizing a Power Virtual Agents chatbot to recognize trigger phrases, ask targeted questions regarding the login device, communicate basic information, and provide links to additional documentation, “Peggy” provides all the information required for a first-time login, without having to contact the help desk.

“Our latest skill for Peggy is to give her the ability to assist with Outlook Distribution List creation and management. So, everyone from the office to the field can use Peggy to find what they need and take care of work faster and securely.”

— Thomas Bilbo, Principal Product Owner, PG&E

Automating SAP Unlock requests eliminates 4,200 calls in a year

PG&E’s help desk team receives over 4,200 calls a year from users who needed to unlock their access to SAP systems. Building on the initial success with “Peggy”, they expanded the Power Virtual Agents chatbot to use Power Automate RPA capabilities and have automated the end-to-end SAP account unlock request process. This has further freed up help desk agents to focus on higher value tasks as they can offload routine items to “Peggy”. The total reduction in support hours is an estimated 840 hours per year.

“Employees from all over the company now have an easily accessible resource that doesn’t require a call,” said Thomas Bilbo, Principal Product Owner for Power Virtual Agents and Power Apps.

$1M+ savings annually on emergency equipment inventory management

As a critical infrastructure entity for the majority of California, PG&E has a responsibility to assist local areas to repair and rebuild from natural disasters such as wildfires and earthquakes and continue operations.

As part of the disaster response, PG&E sets up hubs for first responders with equipment used to manage the event. The IT Emergency Communications (ITEC) team at PG&E manages an inventory of 3000+ pieces of equipment that includes handheld radios, temporary cell towers, satellite uplinks, and many others. They needed a way to mitigate the loss of inventory, effectively track devices, and reduce the cost burden of replacing equipment.

Utilizing Power Apps and Power Automate, PG&E developed a solution to manage its entire emergency site inventory of over 3,000 pieces of equipment. 

graphical user interface, text

Emergency equipment inventory management solution built with Power Apps

Each piece of inventory can be scanned using the built-in bar code scanning capabilities in Power Apps. As a result of the solution, equipment assignment is now completed in the field using mobile devices and all deployment tracking managed centrally and at warehouse facilities across various territories. The resultant savings is over $1M US dollars.

“We used to lose equipment prior to this. This solution has now saved over $1 million USD by leveraging RPA and enabling it to be used on both desktop and mobile devices.”

— Thomas Bilbo, Principal Product Owner, PG&E

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