As part of PG&E's ongoing efforts to prevent wildfires, we are strengthening the electric system with stronger poles, covered powerlines and undergrounding approximately 10,000 miles of distribution powerlines in and near high fire-threat areas. These efforts are known as system hardening.


This system hardening work will occur over several years across thousands of distribution lines in the highest fire-threat areas, and will:


  • Help reduce the risk of wildfires
  • Enhance long-term safety, especially during times of high fire-threat
  • Significantly improve reliability during winter weather
  • In certain cases, reduce Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) impacts

Our wildfire safety and undergrounding efforts are making our system safer, more resilient and positioning us to better serve our customers and respond to our state's evolving climate challenge.


Watch this video for more information on our system hardening work. For an interactive map showing complete and planned PG&E system hardening improvements coming up in your area, visit PSPS Planning Maps.



10,000-mile Undergrounding Program


Meeting our state's climate challenges requires bold, innovative action. That's why we have launched the largest undergrounding effort designed to reduce wildfire risk in the U.S.


In 2021, PG&E announced a program to underground roughly 10,000 miles of powerlines in and near high fire-threat areas.


We are prioritizing areas where undergrounding can reduce wildfire risk and PSPS and Enhanced Powerline Safety Setting (EPSS) outages for our customers. In addition, we are focusing on critical facilities, like hospitals and other factors including:


  • Accessibility during an emergency
  • Ease of construction, including type of terrain
  • Existing infrastructure (available services and transformers)
  • Vegetation in the area, including potential for trees to fall into lines
  • Reliability
  • Climate challenges
  • Other factors

We are planning our expanded undergrounding effort in areas that meet at least several of these considerations and will deliver the highest level of safety for our customers.


While we are continuing to develop additional details on our 10,000-mile undergrounding program, our goal is to significantly increase our underground miles annually. We plan to underground approximately 3,600 miles by 2026, or roughly one-third of the overall 10,000-mile target.


Chart showcasing PG&E's undergrounding plan

Where is this work happening?


Nearly one-third of the electric lines that provide our customers with power are now in High Fire-Threat District (HFTD) areas.


This year, our system hardening work will occur across 470 distribution line miles in locations facing the highest wildfire risk. To ensure we are addressing the highest wildfire risk areas as conditions continue to change and evolve, we are using a new, state-of-the-art technology and prioritization model.



2022-2023 Undergrounding Work Plan by County


In 2022, PG&E plans to underground at least 175 miles of powerlines. The following is a list of counties with undergrounding work planned, under construction or recently completed (in 2022). This includes work planned for 2022-2023. Please note, we are still identifying future undergrounding miles and determining the sequence of the work.

Amador

Marin

San Mateo

Butte

Mariposa

Santa Cruz

Calaveras

Mendocino

Shasta

Contra Costa

Napa

Solano

El Dorado

Nevada

Sonoma

Fresno

Placer

Tehama

Lake

Plumas

Trinity

For locations of work, download the statewide map of planned undergrounding work for 2022-23.


Additional information on our 10,000-mile undergrounding program can be found at pge.com/undergrounding and in our 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

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

In order 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 in order to safely install or underground new electric equipment

For more information, visit pge.com/trees.


Tree Clearing Graphic

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.