California wildfires: PG&E will place 10,000 miles of electric lines underground

PG&E utility pledged to place thousands of miles of electric lines underground to reduce the likelihood of destructive wildfires in California.

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July 22, 2021 - 8:54 AM

The Camp fire burns near Pulga, Calif., in 2018. The blaze was linked to maintenance delays on PG&E power lines. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The PG&E utility pledged Wednesday to place thousands of miles of electric lines underground in a quest to reduce the likelihood of destructive wildfires in Northern and Central California, but provided few details on where exactly — and how quickly — the effort could play out in the years to come.

The promise arrived as the nearly 90,000-acre Dixie fire continued to roar through rugged Butte County and three days after the utility admitted in a state regulatory filing that its equipment touching a tree may have sparked the blaze. The fire remained just 15% contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking first from the nearby town of Chico and later in a call with reporters, Chief Executive Officer Patti Poppe said that the utility had planned to announce the project a few months from now but “couldn’t wait, particularly given the proximity to the Dixie fire and the emotional toll it has on all of us.”

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