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Pacific Gas & Electric announced Wednesday that it plans to keep 10,000 miles of power generation underground to prevent wild firefighters from taking the utility to bankruptcy court, in a show of determination to overcome a history of security problems.
The project, which currently covers about 10 percent of the above-ground lines, could cost billions of dollars to implement. The announcement could lead to questions from utility long-term critics about how much the rate will have to pay more than stakeholders.
The work will be done for the most unsafe area for the fire department and will be expanded to the entire service sector, including 5.5 million electric customers in northern and central California, said California’s largest power supply company.
The announcement of PG&E came just days after a preliminary report was submitted to state regulators His equipment may have caused a dixie fire, The largest blaze in the state, which has burned at least 85,000 acres. The fire is spreading in Butt County, which has utility equipment The fire destroyed the city of Paradise And killed 85 people in 2018.
Although utilities across the country have extended their power lines underground, no project is proposed in proportion to PG&E’s plan. Currently, utilities have 27,000 miles of underground power lines, but they are not usually in areas at risk of wildfires.
The parent of the utility is Patricia K., chief executive of PG & E Corporation. Pope said, “We need to know that we are working day and night to solve this incredible problem.
This year the company is laying a 70-mile underground line, so extending the work to 1,000 miles a year is going to be a leap. “It’s moonshine,” Ku. Pope told reporters. “It should be a shocking number because it’s a big goal.”
By comparison, President Biden’s infrastructure proposal The country needs $ 1 billion to improve its power grid. Although this cost is to counteract the effects of climate change, the possibility of more transmission lines has been created. Instead the rooftop demands more reliance on solar panels and battery storage.
Earlier, General Motors and two power providers, Ku. Pope, On January 1, he became the CEO of PG&E The company later as part of its repair Emerged from bankruptcy. She said the company had planned to make the announcement on the underground power line in a few months but has now decided to do so due to growing public concern about fire safety.
Mark Tony, executive director of the Utility Reform Network, which represents consumers before the California Public Utilities Commission and is often opposed to PG & E, said reducing forest fires is a priority but the utility should develop a plan that will finance a larger project. Without paying the best rates. Mr Tony said the project could cost about million 1 million, or a total of ० 1 trillion, depending on the underground power line proposals that PG & E had previously submitted to state regulators.
“We live in a world where only the rich can afford electricity,” he said. “PG & ELA needs a plan to minimize risk as much as possible at the lowest cost for rate payers.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Lycardo also questioned the ability to finance such an ambitious venture without burdening customers. “If we assume that all PG and E payers win the lottery at the same time, PG and E have the right, we can do it,” he said. Licacardo said, Unsuccessful attempts were made during the bankruptcy of PG & E to turn the utility into a cooperative Than a publicly held company.
The Public Utilities Commission has said it will consider PG & E’s project when the utility formally submits it for review, which will include public hearings.
Ms. Pope said the utility expects to reduce costs per mile by १ 1 billion to २० 20 billion. “We cannot reduce the risk and put a price on safety,” she said. But she did not finance it directly.
According to the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group, about 18 percent of the country’s power distribution lines are buried, including almost all new residential and commercial developments.
PG&E has been focusing on the effects of climate change since the start of the record-setting wild-fire series in Northern California in 2011. Many of these are due to utility equipment.
There is utility Took several steps To prevent fires by installing equipment to monitor weather conditions and allowing the line to be closed remotely. They have sent staff to cut down tree branches and clear other plants that could come in contact with power lines, a concern and concern that has grown with California’s widespread drought situation.
But the effectiveness of those efforts has come under increasing question, especially when the company said its equipment may have caused the Dixie Fire. The forest fire season is months before it reaches its peak.
State regulators and courts have fined utilities billions of dollars for failing to maintain equipment and causing fires. The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection after a ० 1 billion wildlife liability obligation in 2011, was convicted last year of involuntary genocide related to the Paradise Fire.
This was the second serious offense for the utility. 201 In had PG&E The gas pipeline blast was found guilty for related federal charges Six people were killed in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco, six years ago. Because of that, the Public Utilities Commission concluded that the company is more concerned with profit than security.
In recent years, PG&E has also been irritated Millions of customers By reducing their power to prevent their equipment from catching fire during severe weather. Some were without electricity for weeks.
Sheilagh McNeil contributed to the research.
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