One week after being blamed for causing California’s deadliest wildfire, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced that it will install underground powerlines in Paradise in the hopes of preventing a future disaster.
The project will take about five years, and as the town recovers and residents move back into the homes they lost to the Camp fire, PG&E will establish temporary overhead service to meet residents’ needs, the company said in a statement late Wednesday. Some surrounding areas, such as parts of Magalia, will also get the underground power lines.
Paradise will not incur any additional costs, since the project is part of PG&E’s rebuilding efforts. It needs to repair 74 miles of natural gas lines anyway, giving the company an opportunity to handle both at once.
“We decided to rebuild in this way after a careful review of factors, town planning and safety considerations,” said Aaron Johnson, vice president of the company’s electric operations, in a statement. “This is just one of many ways we are trying to assist communities in their recovery.”
The project will require designing around existing water, natural gas and drainage systems, as well as a potential future sewer system and road widenings, the company said.
The Camp fire killed 85 people and burned down more than 13,900 homes last November, all but destroying the town of Paradise, which was ill-prepared for a fire of that magnitude.