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Why Europe Pays Less Than U.S. to Put Power Lines Underground

  • Population density, intallation technique both play a role
  • Californians eye burying lines as a way to prevent wildfires
Deadliest Wildfires In California History As Death Toll Rises
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

PG&E Corp.’s statement last week that the deadly Camp Fire will likely be blamed on the company’s equipment is adding fuel to a perennial California debate: Should power lines be placed underground?

Overhead cables whipping about in wind storms have for years sparked massive fires in the state, whereas even the most powerful gale can’t touch lines buried in the earth. If Europe can place many of its electrical lines underground, the argument goes, why can’t California?