PG&E announces new plans for underground power lines to prevent wildfires

Bay Area

CHICO, Calif. (KRON) – Pacific Gas and Electric announced a new initiative on Wednesday to better protect communities and prevent wildfires.

Officials announced that they will expand underground power lines in the areas with the highest fire threat — This will be a multi-year effort to place 10,000 miles of power lines underground.

This is the largest effort in the country to put power lines underground.

This effort will also benefit customers by reducing the need for Public Safety Power Shutoffs during fire seasons.

“We want what all of our customers want: a safe and resilient energy system,” CEO Patti Poppe said. “We have taken a stand that catastrophic wildfires shall stop. We will partner with the best and the brightest to bring that stand to life. We will demand excellence of ourselves. We will gladly partner with policymakers and state and local leaders to map a path we can all believe in.”

As of today, more than 25,000 miles of power lines overhead in high-risk areas are maintained by PG&E.

The utility says, ‘the exact number of projects or miles undergrounded each year through PG&E’s new expanded undergrounding program will evolve as PG&E performs further project scoping and inspections, estimating and engineering review.’

PG&E began evaluating overhead power lines following the devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

They will continue to work to enhance grid resilience and monitor severe weather conditions.

PG&E’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan includes:

  • Installing stronger poles and covered power lines
  • Deploying remote grids and community microgrids
  • Targeted sectionalizing and grid reconfiguration
  • Investing in centralized data analytics to reduce risk
  • Conducting enhanced vegetation management
  • Scaling the deployment of emerging technologies to proactively mitigate wildfire risk

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