Hardening the electric system
Working to increase safety and reliability
We are hardening the electric system to prevent wildfires. This work includes installing stronger poles and covered powerlines. We are also undergrounding 10,000 miles of powerlines.
Benefits of this work include:
- Reduced risk of wildfires
- Enhanced safety
- Improved reliability
- Less safety power outages
For a map of system hardening work, look under “Wildfire Safety Improvements” on the dropdown menu included in the PSPS Planning Map.
Where the work is happening
Nearly one-third of our powerlines are in high fire-risk areas. We are targeting work on the highest risk lines. In 2022, we will harden 470 miles of powerlines.
10,000-mile undergrounding program
Meeting our state's climate challenges requires bold action. In 2021, we announced plans to underground 10,000 miles of powerlines. Undergrounding reduces ignition risk by nearly 99% in that location.
Expanding our underground electric system will:
- Help prevent wildfires caused by equipment
- Reduce safety power outages
- Decrease the need for future tree work
- Protect the environment
- Beautify our hometowns
For more information and maps, visit Undergrounding Electric Powerlines.
System hardening is how we describe the installation of equipment designed and built to be more resistant to severe weather and wildfire risk. This work may include:
- Undergrounding approximately 10,000 miles of distribution powerlines in and near high fire-threat areas as part of an unprecedented, multiyear effort
- In some cases, poles may still exist to support remaining overhead lines and any PG&E equipment that remains overhead may be replaced with stronger equipment.
- Equipment or lines owned by other utilities, such as a telecommunications company, may remain overhead.
- Installing stronger and more resilient poles
- Installing wider cross-arms to increase the separation of powerlines
- In these cases, the removal of vegetation around the upgraded lines may be significantly greater than prior tree pruning but is necessary to meet required clearances
- Replacing bare powerlines with larger, covered lines to reduce the risk of outages caused by vegetation, birds/animals and to eliminate the risk of bare powerlines coming into contact with one another
- Installing additional poles between existing poles, as well as more down guy wires and anchors to support the weight of covered powerlines and to meet new utility standards
- Removing powerlines connected to trees, also known as Tree Connects, and connecting the powerline to stronger, more resilient poles
- Removal of overhead electrical assets in situations where customers can continue to be served through alternate means, including a Remote Grid
To safely perform this hardening work, we may need to address certain trees or shrubs that are located too close to the electric equipment. This work may include:
- Pruning or cutting down dead, diseased, dying or defective trees that may compromise the powerlines
- Maintaining a minimum clearance of 4 feet around powerlines in high fire-threat areas and establishing minimum clearances of 12 feet or more at the time of prune
- Addressing overhanging branches and limbs 4 feet out from the lines and up to the sky
- In some cases, cutting down trees and shrubs within 12 feet of the powerlines to safely install or underground new electric equipment
For more information, visit pge.com/trees.
We want you to be informed at every step in the process. As part of our system hardening work, you may experience the following:
- In many cases, trees or shrubs will need to be cut down in order to access and safely complete the construction work.
- Different contractor companies may perform the work depending on the project needs. All personnel are required to carry identification.
- You may see PG&E and contractor vehicles, as well as large construction equipment, in your neighborhood. Traffic control measures will be in place and we will make every effort to limit construction noise.
- It may be necessary to shut off power multiple times over the course of the project to safely complete work. Affected customers will receive advance notice. Please note that these are not PSPS outages.
- Customers may experience intermittent road or lane closures, traffic delays and/or construction noise and activity. In addition, cranes and/or helicopters may also be required to complete this project.
- We know this work can be disruptive. We appreciate your patience and are working hard to minimize the inconvenience.
In response to the growing risk of wildfire in our state, we are enhancing our vegetation and safety work. Our focus will be on addressing vegetation that poses a higher potential for wildfire risk in high fire-threat areas as designated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Learn about our vegetation safety work in high fire-threat areas.