To Prevent Wildfires, A California Company Will Bury 10,000 Miles Of Power Lines
According to its CEO, California’s largest energy utility corporation will bury 10,000 miles of power lines in a huge effort to prevent its equipment from causing additional devastating wildfires.
Faulty power lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electric ignited the state’s deadliest fire in modern history, which ripped through the northern California town of Paradise in 2018, killing 86 people.
After a tree fell on a power wire on the day the flame started, PG&E equipment was once again blamed for one of the largest fires now raging in California – the Dixie Fire.
The decision to bury the cables was brought up because to the “emotional toll” of the Dixie Fire, which is burning in the wildfire scars of the Paradise inferno, according to CEO Patti Poppe.
At a press conference, Poppe stated, “We are committing today to undertake one of the major infrastructure projects in the history of our state.”
“We’ve pledged to bury 10,000 miles of wires, beginning in our most fire-prone districts and high-risk locations. Today is the first day.”
The project will take a decade to complete and will cost tens of billions of dollars. California utilities had previously buried electrical lines, but never on this magnitude.
Many of the enormous flames that have swept California in recent years have been blamed on undeveloped area near high-voltage lines, however lightning strikes were responsible for a significant portion of last year’s record fire season.
Utility companies have begun to organize pre-emptive outages during hot, windy conditions in recent years to prevent wildfires from spreading.
Governor Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, lambasted the measure’s “scale and breadth” in 2019, instead blaming PG&E for decades of “neglect” and “mismanagement.”
In January 2019, PG&E admitted that its equipment was to blame for the Paradise disaster and filed for bankruptcy protection.
It negotiated an agreement with authorities to cover wildfire-related expenditures, as well as forest firefighting and the maintenance of electrical equipment blamed for many tragic fires.
Last year, the power giant and local prosecutors agreed a separate plea agreement over the Paradise disaster, admitting to 84 counts of manslaughter and one count of unlawful arson.
More than 300,000 acres have burnt in California so far this year, greatly surpassing the same period in 2020, which was the worst year for wildfire destruction in the state’s modern history.