SAN FRANCISCO—PG&E announced a new initiative to expand electrical undergrounding of power lines in High Fire Threat Districts on Wednesday, July 21. The initiative builds on previous successful underground projects to strengthen electrical systems and reduce the chance of wildfires.
PG&E CEO, Patti Poppe, announced the safety initiative is a multi-year effort to underground approximately 10,000 miles of power lines. The corporation’s commitment to underground power lines is the largest effort made in the U.S. as a measure to prevent wildfires.
“We want what all of our customers want: a safe and resilient energy system,” said Poppe in a public announcement. “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.”
The 10,000 miles of power lines equals the distance of about 11 round trips from Chico to Los Angeles, according to a press release. PG&E maintains over 25,000 miles of overhead power lines in the highest fire threat areas including Tier 2, Tier 3, and Zone 1.
Along with reducing wildfires, the initiative will lessen the need for Public Safety Power Shutoffs. PSPS are called for when weather conditions are dry, windy, and most likely to cause vegetation to contact power lines and spark a flame. PG&E offers recommendations about how to prepare in advance for a PSPS on its website.
In the event of a PSPS, PG&E advises fully charging mobile devices, practicing how to open and close garage doors manually, filling cars up with gas, keeping cash on hand, and using frozen cans of water to keep foods cold.
PG&E will be working with customers and local, state, federal, tribal, and regulatory officials during this initiative to underground power lines. For more information regarding PSPS preparations, visit PG&E’s informational webpage at pge.com/psps.