California wildfires make underground utilities an infrastructure priority
California largest electricity provider has long said underground installation of long distance, high voltage power transmission lines would be too costly. Now, Pacific Gas & Electric plans to spend the next decade putting 10,000 miles of power lines below the ground in areas of the state prone to wildfires. Fulton Schools Professor Samuel Ariaratnam, an expert in trenchless technology and underground construction, says the decision highlights the critical need to adopt new advanced technologies — despite the costs — to protect communities from wildfires of other catastrophic events like tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms. Ariaratnam, who has worked to develop good practices for installing underground utilities, talks about what these technological breakthroughs mean for public safety, protecting power grids and minimizing the effects of climate change.