The Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently announced a large-scale initiative to submerge at least 10,000 miles of power lines underground to help lessen the wildfires in High Fire Threat Districts throughout Northern and Central California. This multi-year safety effort will “further harden its system and help prevent wildfires.”
PG&E’s new infrastructure safety initiative is said to be the largest effort to lessen the risk of wildfire in the U.S.
“We want what all of our customers want: a safe and resilient energy system,” Patti Poppe, CEO of PG&E Corporation, said. “We have taken a stand that catastrophic wildfires shall stop.”
Undergrounding will also “benefits customers by lessening the need for Public Safety Power Shutoffs,” according to a press release. Public Safety Power Shutoffs is when the utility company shuts off the power as a last resort during dry and windy conditions to “reduce the risk of vegetation contacting live power lines and sparking a wildfire,” PG&E said.
PG&E currently maintains 25,000 miles of overhead distribution power lines in the highest fire-threat areas. After the Northern California wildfires in October 2017 and the Camp Fire in 2018, PG&E decided a wildfire safety measure needed to be put in place and started to evaluate placing overhead power lines underground.
The company’s undergrounding program will continue to evolve over the years as it “performs further project scoping and inspections, estimating and engineering review,” according to a press release.
“We will partner with the best and the brightest to bring that stand to life. We will demand excellence of ourselves,” Poppe said. “We will gladly partner with policymakers and state and local leaders to map a path we can all believe in.”