Guest Editorial

Undergrounding power lines necessary to prevent wildfires

Guest EditorialCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Nov. 3, 2023) — We at PG&E are deeply committed to doing everything possible to stop wildfires in Bay Area communities.

Burying powerlines is the most effective solution to reducing the risk of wildfire from electrical equipment, reducing the risk of ignitions in areas at the highest risk of wildfire by nearly 98%. Undergrounding also makes power more reliable by reducing outages caused by winter storms, and in some cases eliminates the need for safety shutoffs.

That is why we have proposed moving overhead electric powerlines underground in highest fire-risk areas, including 40 miles in our Bay Area Region (which includes Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties). For these investments, all PG&E customers will benefit from lower expenses for overhead-line maintenance; improved air and water quality resulting from fewer wildfires; protection of our wildlands; and, over the long run, improved access to homeowners insurance coverage at lower premiums.

But the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) wants to gut this critical safety program, reducing proposed undergrounding to as little as 200 miles systemwide.

We’ve seen the devastating toll wildfires have taken on Bay Area communities. Our customers and local officials have told us time and again that they want us to underground our powerlines. That’s because undergrounding is the safest and most effective tool we have to prevent ignitions in high fire-risk areas.

We urge the CPUC to revisit its proposals and accept PG&E’s proposal to underground 2,000 miles through 2026. If you agree, please let the commission know by visiting

Aaron Johnson
Region Vice President, Bay Area