PITTSBURG, Calif.— Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will be working along Contra Costa County’s Kirker Pass to underground nearly 4.5 miles of overhead equipment beginning in mid-June. The system-hardening work will help ensure safety and reliability in high fire-threat areas.
In addition to Kirker Pass, work will take place on Nortonville Road in Pittsburg. Customers in the affected areas will receive notification in advance of the work.
Drivers may notice equipment and trucks in the area. There will be lane closures and traffic control in place; drivers should allow for delays. Should there be a need for a planned outage associated with this work, PG&E will reach out in advance to any affected customers.
The work is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, weather permitting.
This project is part of PG&E’s multiyear infrastructure safety program to underground approximately 10,000 miles of powerlines in and near high fire-threat areas, first announced in 2021. This plan represents the bold, innovative action that is required to meet our state’s climate challenges and is the largest effort in the U.S. to underground powerlines as a wildfire risk reduction measure.
Undergrounding is part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, first launched in 2018 to help keep customers and communities safe in the face of growing wildfire risk across the state.
Undergrounding is just one of the system-hardening tools PG&E uses to reduce wildfire risks.
Depending on the needs of the community, PG&E reviews additional risk-reduction efforts including installing stronger poles, covered powerlines and sectionalizing devices; conducting enhanced vegetation management; adjusting powerline safety settings; and implementing Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
PG&E Announces Powerline Undergrounding Projects in Bay Area Communities at High Risk of Wildfires
Work Is Planned or Under Way on Approximately 43 Miles of Electric Distribution Lines in Seven Bay Area Counties as Part of 10,000-mile Program
OAKLAND – As part of our commitment to reduce wildfire risk and create a safer and more resilient grid, PG&E plans to underground at least 175 miles of electric distribution powerlines in 2022 and 400 additional such miles in 2023 in 21 counties across its service area.
The miles represent the first major tranche of projects in PG&E’s program to underground 10,000 miles of electric distribution powerlines, including a target of about 3,600 miles from 2022 to 2026.
Of the 2022-23 miles currently designed, submitted for permitting or under construction, the Bay Area is home to roughly 43 miles of lines to be undergrounded across Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma counties.
Miles designed, in permitting or under construction in the Bay Area include:
- 1.5 miles in Alameda County
- 8.5 miles in Contra Costa County
- 2.9 miles in Marin County
- 6.1 miles in Napa County
- 9.6 miles in San Mateo County
- 7.5 miles in Solano County
- 7.1 miles in Sonoma County
Undergrounding in local communities can cut the risk of ignitions along undergrounded circuits by 99 percent; reduce annual spending on temporary repairs and other recurring costs such as vegetation management; and curb the need for wildfire safety-related outages.
“Targeted undergrounding in High Fire-Threat Districts will make our system safer and more resilient to better serve customers and respond to the state’s evolving climate challenges,” said PG&E Vice President of Undergrounding Jamie Martin. “All of our customers will benefit from improvements to air and water quality with fewer ignitions, as well as lower overall maintenance and operating costs over time.”
PG&E is emphasizing undergrounding in areas where it can have the greatest effect on reducing wildfire risk and Public Safety Power Shutoffs for our customers.
We are also focusing on critical facilities, such as hospitals, and looking at factors including terrain, accessibility, constructability, vegetation, existing infrastructure (such as the number of services and transformers) and climate challenges.
When possible, we prioritize efforts to address multiple needs, and will continue to deliver the highest level of safety for our customers.
PG&E forecasts an average cost of $3.75 million per mile to underground distribution lines in 2022 and is acting to reduce that cost over the coming years, to $2.5 million per mile in 2026.
Our plan to underground 10,000 miles of distribution powerlines in and near areas at high wildfire risk represents the bold, innovative action that is required to meet California’s climate challenges. It’s also the largest effort in the United States to underground powerlines as a wildfire risk-reduction measure.
Undergrounding and PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program
Undergrounding is part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, which we launched in 2018 to help keep customers and communities safe in the face of growing wildfire risk across our state. California, Oregon and Washington, among other Western states, continue to experience increased wildfire risk and longer wildfire seasons. Nearly one-third of the electric powerlines that serve our customers are now in High Fire-Threat Districts designated by the California Public Utilities Commission.
As we continue to respond to severe weather threats, our wildfire safety program is evolving to reflect lessons learned and incorporate new information. That is why our program includes short-, medium- and long-term plans to make our system safer.
Undergrounding is just one of the system-hardening tools we use to reduce wildfire risks.
Depending on the needs of the community, we review additional risk-reduction efforts including installing stronger poles, covered powerlines and sectionalizing devices; conducting enhanced vegetation management; adjusting powerline safety settings; and implementing Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
Across our system, we have deployed additional layers of protection for our customers, including installing more than 1,300 weather stations and 500 high-definition cameras, with more installations underway in 2022.
These and additional risk-reduction efforts are outlined in our 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.