PG&E burying 10,000 miles of power lines to lessen wildfire risk

PG&E burying 10,000 miles of power lines to lessen wildfire risk
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The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on Wednesday announced plans to bury around 10,000 miles of power lines in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires.

The power lines in question are located in High Fire Threat Districts, according to a press release from PG&E. According to the company, not only will this move reduce the risk of fires, it will also benefit customers by reducing the need for public safety power shutoffs, which are conducted during dry windy conditions.

"We want what all of our customers want: a safe and resilient energy system. We have taken a stand that catastrophic wildfires shall stop," PG&E CEO Patricia Poppe said. "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."

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According to The New York Times, Poppe said the cost of this undertaking could be between $15 billion and $20 billion.

“We can’t put a price on the risk reduction and safety,” she said. The Times notes that around 18 percent of power lines in the U.S. are already buried.

The western U.S. is currently experiencing a rash of wildfires, with 80 large fires burning at the beginning of this week. The majority of the fires are in Montana and Idaho. The largest fire is currently the Bootleg fire in Oregon, where only about a third of the blaze is contained.

Smoke from these fires has made its way to the eastern half of the country, prompting air quality warnings in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.