California is beginning to bury its power lines to prevent wildfire
To reduce the threat of wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric is embarking on an extensive and expensive project to put its high-risk electrical power distribution lines underground. The company’s equipment has been faulted for sparking intense and wide-ranging wildfires in Northern California in recent years that have led to numerous fatalities and devastating property destruction. Even with the high cost, the project is a smart move, says Professor Samuel Ariaratnam, the Fulton Schools construction engineering program chair. He and other engineers point out the necessity for the project because of the intensifying impact of global warming in creating conditions to ignite wildfires. Ariaratnam is a leading expert in an evolving underground construction technique called horizontal directional drilling that could be used in this project. The technique can significantly save time and effort in restoring terrain disrupted by underground power line installations.