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Why burying power lines is an effective, but very expensive way to prevent wildfires

Katie Brigham of CNBC reports on the costs of burying power lines.

The C3 Take
  • The nation’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), is aiming to move 10,000 miles of transmission lines in fire prone areas underground.
  • While this move is expected to reduce wildfire risk by 97% in these areas, it is projected to cost $1.85 million to $6.1 million.
  • Since PG&E is a regulated utility, this bill will be footed by consumers instead of the company.
  • While an expensive endeavor, it could lower costs in the long term by reducing wildfire risk and damage.

“Since PG&E earns a guaranteed rate of return on capital investments, the utility is inherently incentivized to undertake more expensive infrastructure projects such as undergrounding, explained Morsony and Daniel Kirschen, a professor of power and energy systems at the University of Washington. This is how the utility makes money, not by selling electricity or gas.”

Read the full article here.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

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