The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a plan for Pacific Gas & Electric to bury some 1,230 miles of high-voltage electric transmission lines and use covered conductors on another 778 miles over the next four years at a cost of $4.78 billion. The San Francisco-based utility had proposed to bury 2,000 miles of transmission lines at a cost of $6 billion. As part of its response to devastating wildfires, PG&E had buried 197 miles of lines by the end of October.
The burial plan was part of a PG&E 2023-2026 general rate case that won CPUC approval. The case will hike rates for the average customer by 13% next year. California already has among the highest electric rates of any U.S. utility, driven in part by many social policy adders the California legislature has mandated to include in rates, which has prompted some recent criticism as biasing customers against more climate friendly electricity in favor of natural gas (which PG&E also sells).
In Michigan, Jackson-based Consumers Energy says it has now buried 15% of its formerly overhead transmission lines in Genesse County, and plans to expand undergrounding to improve reliability. The undergrounding is part of a pilot program partly funded by the Department of Energy. Garrick Rochow, Consumers CEO, told local TV station NewsChannel 3, “We recognize the amount of outages clearly not acceptable and we are working to improve the system.” More…