Pacific Gas & Electric is taking steps to protect its appliances from wildfires.

The utility plans to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines to protect its electrical equipment from hitting millions of trees and other vegetation in drought-stricken California.

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The estimated cost to bury 10% of its transmission lines is between $15 billion and $30 billion.

The utility believes it will find ways to keep the final bill on the low end of those estimates. Most of the cost will probably be borne by PG&E customers, whose electricity rates are already among the highest in the US.

PG&E increases its security commitment days after notifying regulators A 70-foot pine tree that fell on one of its power lines ignited a major fire in Butte County, the same rural area about 145 miles northeast of San Francisco where, in 2018. Its equipment caused another fire, which killed more than 80 people and destroyed thousands. of houses.

PG&E told California officials that its equipment could catch fire

Since it began in a remote area of ​​Butte County on July 13, the Dixie Fire has churned northeast through the Sierra Nevada. By Wednesday, the fire had spread to a 133-square-mile area, forcing the Plumas County Sheriff to order an evacuation from the western shore of popular Lake Almanor on Wednesday.

The reaction to PG&E’s potential liability for the Dixie Fire prompted the company’s recently appointed CEO, Patricia “Patti” Poppe, to unveil plans for the underground lines several months ago that she had planned.

Previous PG&E arrangements have strongly opposed plans to bury long stretches of power lines because of the heavy expense.

PG&E seeks $3.6 billion rate hike for wildfire protection

But Popeye told reporters Wednesday that after joining PG&E in January he quickly realized that underground lines were the best way to protect both the utility and the 16 million people who rely on it for power. .

“It’s too expensive not to do that. Life is on the line,” Pope told reporters.

PG&E only said it would take years to bury the lines.

The utility’s grid was blamed for igniting a series of devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018, which prompted the company to file for bankruptcy in 2019.

The biggest fire in Butte County wiped out the entire City of Paradise and resulted in PG&E being blamed 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter Just weeks before one of the most complicated cases in American history came to the fore last year.