Tuesday, May 30, 2023

California Governor Signs Bill to Expedite the Undergrounding of Power Lines in High Fire Risk Areas


The following is a press release issued by the Office of California State Senator Mike McGuire:

PG&E lineman restoring power after the Hopkins Fire in 2021 [Picture by Matt LaFever]

Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire’s bill, SB 884, that will safeguard communities and save lives by expediting the undergrounding of electric utility lines in California’s highest fire risk zones, was signed into law [Thursday] by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Accountability is here – and it’s about time,” Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire said. “For far too long, America’s largest utility – PG&E – has failed its customers and made California unsafe. The utility has underfunded modernization, line hardening and wildfire safety efforts for decades, which has had devastating impacts in communities throughout the utility’s territory. One of the most critical paths forward is to move power lines underground in the most high fire risk regions. Now, it’s the law. SB 884 will save lives and ratepayers money by expediting the undergrounding of 10,000 miles of the highest fire risk electric lines. We’re grateful for the overwhelming and bipartisan support from the legislature and Governor Newsom.”

Undergrounding electric lines reduces the likelihood of fires starting by 99% and will vastly reduce carbon emissions by stopping mega-fires before they start. SB 884 will expedite the undergrounding of 10,000 miles of utility lines, while saving ratepayers money by using federal infrastructure funds. Currently, PG&E only undergrounds approximately 100 miles of their electrical lines annually. To enforce the measure, an independent monitor will be appointed to oversee the utility on the undergrounding projects’ budgets, scope, and timelines.

“Year after year, these utility-caused wildfires have become our reality. This law will help stop this insanity for the health and safety of all Californians,” said Senator McGuire.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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