It took a string of deadly fires, criminal convictions, a messy bankruptcy, and a multibillion-dollar settlement, but Pacific Gas and Electric Company—better known as PG&E—is finally committing to burying vast stretches of power lines in fire-prone California.
The utility said on Wednesday that it will bury 10,000 miles of power lines in places that are at the greatest risk for wildfires. The ten-year project will touch 10 percent of PG&E’s transmission and distributions lines, and it will cost tens of billions of dollars.
PG&E had apparently been planning to announce the project later this year, but Patricia Poppe, the company’s new CEO, moved up the news release after the utility’s equipment emerged as the likely cause of the 104,000-acre Dixie Fire in Butte County. A 70-foot pine tree fell on one of PG&E’s power lines on July 13, the company reported to regulators. Today, the fire is only 17 percent contained.