PG&E initiates underground power line placement in Magalia, Calif.

Calif. (UI) — In Magalia, a significant transformation is underway as power lines are being placed underground, Action News Now reported. This initiative has led to the temporary closure of Dogtown Road for the current week, marking a pivotal move in a broader endeavor aimed at mitigating wildfires.

PG&E representative Paul Moreno told Action News Now that underground power lines offer a 99% reduction in the risk of wildfire ignition compared to their overhead counterparts.

The current phase of the undertaking began recently, with workers diligently excavating holes along Dogtown Road to accommodate the placement of power line boxes. The work schedule involves crews operating from Monday to Friday, spanning 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the project set to continue until late September.

Survivor of the Camp Fire, Melodie Cabral, expressed her support for this initiative to Action News Now. Cabral said that the prevalent winds in the region have always raised concerns about power disruptions due to fire-related issues. The recent fire outbreak compelled action, and while the transition to underground power lines might pose inconveniences, Cabral said she believes that the long-term benefits will substantially elevate the safety of the area.

Upon the completion of this phase, the focus will shift towards the installation of underground lines along Skyway, covering the stretch between Magalia Dam and South Park Drive. These combined efforts will result in the installation of around 2 miles of underground power lines.

The Magalia project falls within the scope of PG&E's Butte Rebuild commitment, which was initiated shortly after the Camp Fire. This commitment exempts individuals residing within the fire-ravaged region from planned customer rate hikes, as these increases will fund the undertaking's expenses.

While the current cost of burying power lines is approximately $3.75 million per mile, PG&E anticipates a reduction to about $2.8 million per mile by 2026. The utility company asserts that despite the expense, the advantages of underground lines in high fire-risk areas are abundant.

Moreno from PG&E highlighted that apart from fire prevention, this initiative will lead to future cost savings, as it will diminish the necessity for extensive tree trimming and clearance around overhead lines. Furthermore, PG&E plans to leverage artificial intelligence to identify optimal locations for implementing underground power lines.

Work along Dogtown Road will continue throughout the daytime hours, while the forthcoming work along Skyway is scheduled to occur during nighttime hours, as communicated by PG&E.

This story was originally published by Action News Now.

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