CHICO, Calif. (KION) Pacific Gas and Electric announced a new initiative to move some powerlines underground in an effort to prevent wildfires.
The utility's CEO, Patti Poppe, said the multi-year effort will move about 10,000 miles of powerlines underground in "High Fire Threat Districts." She did not specify where those are. PG&E has more than 25,000 miles of powerlines in the highest fire-threat areas.
"We want what all of our customers want: a safe and resilient energy system. 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," Poppe said.
PG&E said moving the lines underground may also reduce the need for Public Safety Power Shutoffs. The shutoffs usually happen when it is dry and windy to reduce the risk that a live power line will spark a wildfire in dry vegetation. It would also mean less of a need for trimming trees around lines.
Earlier this week, PG&E said its equipment may be linked to the start of the Dixie Fire in Butte and Plumas Counties. It has burned more than 85,000 acres and is 15% contained. The utility is also accused of sparking:
PG&E said it began placing powerlines underground following the 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire.