Bury Fire-Causing Power Lines Now!

Recent news

Success! PG&E to bury 30 times as many fire-causing power lines!

Thank you for signing our grassroots petition, which succeeded in building awareness that fires can be prevented by investing in burying a small percentage of the overhead lines in the state. PG&E’s sudden July 21 announcement to initiate what it called a Marshall Plan level effort to spend more than $15 billion to bury 1,000 miles of fire-causing overhead power lines a year for ten years marked a stark reversal of the utility giant’s argument that such an effort would be impossibly expensive.  Potential liability for the Dixie Fire prompted the company's recently hired CEO, Patricia "Patti" Poppe, to unveil the plan.“We know that we have long argued that undergrounding was too expensive,” Chief Executive Patti Poppe said. “This is where we say it’s too expensive not to underground. Lives are on the line.” The announcement came two months after the Sonoma Independent, allied with the Davis Community Vision Alliance, launched a grassroots Bury Power Lines Now! Campaign. The effort began with this article in the Sonoma Independent describing how climate change-induced high winds, hot weather and drought have caused overhead power lines in a relatively tiny area of the state to spark four of the six most destructive fires in the state since 2017. The campaign to build awareness of the importance of burying a relatively small percentage of all overhead lines hosted this Change.org petition that was signed by more than 1,700 Californias and viewed nearly 20,000 times.  With the assistance of environmentalists from UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego, commentaries and letters advocating for The Bury Power Lines Now! Campaign appeared in various news sites including The Press Democrat, The Davis Enterprise, The Pacific Sun, News 93.1 KFBK and Mercury News. Jonathan Greenberg,  a veteran investigative journalist who is founder of the campaign and of the Sonoma Independent, commented, “For the past four years,  as fires caused by overhead power lines have ravaged our communities, deteriorated public health, and added millions of tons of carbon to the air, PG&E has claimed that it is too expensive to bury the lines, despite the fact that this is by far the most important preventive measure that can be taken to prevent fires. We hope this is evidence of a new direction for their company, one that includes greater transparency, support for independently operated microgrids, and an absence of profiteering from the company’s expanded power line burying operations.”  Prior to last week’s announcement, according to PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Plan, the company had completed the undergrounding of only 30 miles in Butte County for the year 2020, and planned to bury another 18 to 56 lines in 2021 and 47 to 146 in 2022. Now PG&E will bury 20-30 times the number of miles every year. The Bury Power Lines Now! Campaign’s petition sparked extensive public discourse on various social media platforms and awareness that long term solutions to fires were necessary.

The Sonoma Independent
6 months ago