SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — PG&E is working on burying power lines underground to minimize the impact of shut-offs during severe weather conditions.
When the power’s out in neighborhoods in Rincon Valley not in high-fire threat zones, and with only so many generators on hand, it makes it nearly impossible for contractors like Jeff Guerra and his co-worker Bob to deliver what they promise.READ MORE: PG&E to Face Criminal Charges Over Deadly Zogg Fire in Shasta County
“If these places don’t have electricity, it’s hard to work, said Bob.
Crews will place 3.4 miles of power distribution lines into the ground by August, which will help at least 11,000 customers keep their lights on.
“If it gives power and it’s underground, great,” said Guerra.
Santa Rosa residents know too well the deadly consequences of wildfires as they are reminded daily of past wildfires that have roared through parts of the city.
The public safety power shut offs help reduce the chances of a deadly blaze in high-fire threat areas, but oftentimes, neighborhoods that are not in danger are impacted.
“We took a look at how can we keep the lights on for customers who keep getting impacted, while still keeping the wildfire threat low,” said PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras.READ MORE: COVID Surge: Santa Clara County To Require Its 22,000 Workers To Be Vaccinated
High winds can cause tree branches to damage lines and cause wildfires.
“We call for a PSPS and we de-energize targeted sections of lines that are in high-fire threat areas when there are high winds and forecasted extreme weather conditions to prevent a wildfire,” said Contreras.
PG&E has been held liable for tens of billions of dollars for its role in deadly blazes in the past.
The company says the main goal of the project along Harville Road and Calistoga is to reduce the impact of public-safety power shut offs that usually peak in early fall.
“We lost everything in refrigerators, that type of thing,” said Santa Rosa resident Jeff Guerra.
“It’s great. It’s a step forward at least there will be a shopping center open and gas stations and things,” said Guerra.MORE NEWS: Roadwork Planned on Highway 37 in Solano, Sonoma Counties
PG&E says the average cost to bury these kinds of lines per mile is about $2.3 million