After over two years of supplying electricity from generators to Greenville area customers, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is switching them to grid power.
Following completion of a eight-mile underground main power line, from a substation in Canyon Dam to Power Line Road along Highway 89, PG&E will transfer power from substation generators to grid power on September 18 and 19.
More than 1,600 customers, mostly in Greenville and some in outer Crescent Mills, will no longer rely on utility-scale generators at PG&E’s Crescent Mills substation. The switch to grid power provides more consistent and reliable energy delivery and eliminates noise and emissions from substation generators, PG&E officials said.
It also means power outages for 263 customers in Greenville on Monday, Sept. 18 from about 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Sept. 19, 1,628 customers in Greenville and outer Crescent Mill will be without electricity from about 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. PG&E has notified impacted customers by phone calls, officials said.
The company installed utility-scale generators in Crescent Mills in August 2021, when the Dixie fire roared up the Feather River Canyon burning 963,309 acres in Plumas, Lassen, Butte, Shasta, and Tehama counties. The single largest fire in California history, Dixie burned over 800 homes and devastated the communities of Indian Falls, Greenville, Canyon Dam and Warner Valley.
California fire officials found PG&E responsible for starting the blaze with faulty electrical equipment near Pulga. In January, the company agreed to a $24 million combined settlement with 10 public entities. Plumas County’s share is $7.8 million.
In a criminal case separate from Plumas County’s civil suit, Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister and four other district attorneys won nearly $30 million from PG&E to compensate local charities and organizations involved in mitigating the effects of the fire. Plumas County’s share of $17 million has been distributed to non-profit organizations that include the Plumas County Office of Education Foundation, Feather River College, the Dixie Fire Collaborative and the Maidu Summit Consortium.
A key component of that settlement was moving PG&E electrical equipment, which also started the 2018 Camp fire, from overhead power poles to under the ground. That work has been ongoing along Highways 89 and 70 in Plumas County, causing delays of up to 45 minutes.
PG&E started work on Sept. 6 to underground about 14 miles of power lines along Highway 70 between Storrie and Belden in Plumas County. Crews will work until winter weather shuts them down, then resume work in 2024.
When PG&E official Brandon Sanders announced these plans to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors Sept. 12, it drew complaints from Hollister and Supervisor Tom McGowan. PG&E’s lengthy construction delays are frustrating, especially when motorists see workers idle along the roads, said McGowan, who represents the Lake Almanor area.
“We’re losing businesses while we see people standing around… It doesn’t seem like communication is foremost,” he said.
“We’re losing businesses while we see people standing around.”Tom McGowam, Plumas County supervisor
Hollister challenged the locations along major highways that PG&E has chosen for undergrounding electrical wiring. “This is the low-hanging fruit,” he said. “It gives us little relief from wildfire danger.”
PG&E is “deeply committed to doing everything we can to prevent wildfires in the communities we serve and live in,” said Joe Wilson, vice president of PG&E’s North Valley & Sierra Region and a Plumas County native.
“Our region has been devastated by wildfires in recent years. Undergrounding work protects our customers, neighbors, friends and families,” said Wilson.
By undergrounding powerlines, and therefore reducing ignition risk in that location by approximately 98 percent, all customers will benefit from reducing all potential effects from ignitions, he said. PG&E anticipates the undergrounding cost per mile will decrease as the scale of the project increases, to approximately $2.8 million per mile in 2026.
Other PG&E power line undergrounding projects currently underway in Plumas County include: Highway 70 east of the Plumas-Butte county line; Highway 89 between Indian Falls and Moccasin; and areas in Greenville.
In about mid-October, traffic controls will no longer be in place between Canyon Dam and
Greenville as PG&E’s contractor stops asphalt restoration. Asphalt restoration will resume in the
spring after winter weather.
For questions and more information about road impacts, the public may call PG&E’s Customer Rebuild Line at 800-254-5810.