OAKLAND, Calif. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted $1.1 million to the city of Rolling Hills to replace overhead power lines and poles with nearly 2,000 feet of underground cables and relocate transformers to an area with less wildfire risk.
With its steep canyons and scrub-covered hillsides, the Palos Verdes Peninsula has always been vulnerable to hazards associated with brush fires. The area around Rolling Hills is no exception. The Los Angeles Fire Department identified the area as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, the highest designation with the greatest fire risk.
Wildfires in 1973, 1993, 2009 and 2018 destroyed homes, disrupted essential utilities and risked the lives of residents, firefighters and livestock. Often the spontaneous ignitions were caused by ruptured gas mains and service lines, damaged or fallen cables and unbraced or inadequately braced gas or electrical equipment.
Undergrounding power lines is the most comprehensive and effective method to eliminate the threat of damaged or downed cables caused by high wind events, fire, earthquakes and earthquake-related fires. Completion of the project will enhance the safety and reliability of Rolling Hills’ electric grid in an area that is particularly vulnerable to fire.
The $1.5 million project includes a $1.1 million grant from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), with the remaining $381,000 from non-federal sources.
FEMA’s HMGP helps states, territories, federally-recognized tribes, local communities, and certain private, non-profit organizations become more resilient to potential infrastructure damage and reduce future disaster costs. In the past 31 years, FEMA has invested nearly $1.4 billion to reduce disaster risk in California.