California power company Pacific Gas and Electric said on Wednesday it would bury 10,000 miles of power lines in high-risk fire zones as a safety measure after its equipment caused multiple destructive wildfires over several years.
The utility, which called the project a multi-year initiative, maintains more than 25,000 miles of overhead distribution power lines in the highest fire-risk zones, or more than 30% of its total distribution overhead system, according to the company.
The move by PG&E comes days after it said its equipment may have been involved in the start of a recent wildfire in Sierra Nevada, according to a filing by PG&E to regulators published on the internet by a San Francisco Chronicle journalist.
The company emerged from bankruptcy last year. It had sought protection from creditors after wildfires sparked by its equipment in 2017 and 2018 drove the utility’s potential liabilities into tens of billions of dollars.
“Following the devastating October 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire, PG&E began to evaluate placing overhead power lines underground as a wildfire safety measure,” the company said on Wednesday.