PG&E slows underground power line plan aimed at avoiding wildfire risk

By Laila Kearney

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NEW YORK, Feb 23 (Reuters) – California electric utility and natural gas provider PG&E Corp has scaled back plans to install power lines underground through 2026, a move that is aimed at avoiding wildfire risks in the western United States, the company said on Thursday.

Oakland-based PG&E is set to bury 2,275 miles over the next three years, down from a previous goal of 3,600 miles over the same time period, as part of a larger capital project to gird its infrastructure against fires, slot online terpercaya company executives said in a quarterly earnings presentation to investors.

The reduction is “a result of conversations with our key stakeholders” and the need to prove that the company can pursue its undergrounding efforts in a cost-efficient way, PG&E Chief Executive Officer Patricia Poppe said.

PG&E’s overhead power lines were blamed for the deadliest wildfire in California history in 2018 as well as other destructive widespread blazes in recent years, which led the company to file for bankruptcy protection amid billions of dollars in fire-related liability.

PG&E faces a manslaughter trial beginning in June related to fire deaths.

Over the long run, the utility, which provides electricity to about 5.5 million homes and businesses, ultimately plans to underground 10,000 miles of lines.

PG&E plans to file a 10-year plan later this year with more details about its effort to bury lines.

The company said it is also working to slash fire threats by building up its electric grid with stronger poles and covered lines, clearing vegetation and trees, and deploying automatic power line shut-off measures.

So far, it has mitigated more than 90% of wildfire risk, Poppe said.

“That will clarify mileage and unit cost targets,” Poppe said.(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Caitlin Webber)

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