Electric Undergrounding Program

PG&E places underground each year approximately 30 miles of overhead electric facilities, within its service area. This work is done under provisions of the company's Rule 20A, an electric tariff filed with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Projects performed under Rule 20A are nominated by a city, county or municipal agency and discussed with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, as well as other utilities. The costs for undergrounding under Rule 20A are recovered through electric rates after the project is completed.

Rule 20 also includes sections B and C. Sections A, B and C are determined by the type of area to be undergrounded and by who pays for the work.

Rule 20A

Rule 20A projects are typically in areas of a community that are used most by the general public. These projects are also paid for by customers through future electric rates. To view current projects in queue, see Rule 20A Project Status (Rev Q2 2013) (PDF, 105 KB).

To qualify, the governing body of a city or county must, among other things, determine, after consultation with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and after holding public hearings on the subject, that undergrounding is in the general public interest for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Undergrounding will avoid or eliminate an unusually heavy concentration of overhead electric facilities.
  • The street or road or right-of-way is extensively used by the general public and carries a heavy volume of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • The street, road or right-of-way adjoins or passes through a civic area or public recreation area or an area of unusual scenic interest to the general public.
  • The street or road or right‑of‑way is considered an arterial street or major collector as defined in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research General Plan Guidelines.

Rule 20B

Rule 20B projects are usually done with larger developments. The majority of the costs are paid for by the developer or applicant.

Undergrounding under Rule 20B is available for circumstances where the area to be undergrounded does not fit the Rule 20A criteria, but still involves both sides of the street for at least 600 feet. Under Rule 20B, the applicant is responsible for the installation of the conduit, substructures and boxes. The applicant then pays for the cost to complete installation of the underground electric system, less a credit for an equivalent overhead system, plus the ITCC (tax), if applicable.

Rule 20C

Rule 20C projects are usually smaller projects involving a few property owners and the costs are almost entirely borne by the applicants.

Undergrounding under the provisions of Rule 20C is available where neither Rule 20A nor Rule 20B applies. Under Rule 20C, the applicant pays for the entire cost of the electric undergrounding, less a credit for salvage.

Rule 20 Process Flow

A cross-functional team that includes representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the phone and cable companies, local governments and the community at-large oversees Rule 20A projects. Projects are accomplished by:

  • Identifying and reviewing potential projects
  • Developing preliminary costs for the projects
  • Refining associated boundaries and costs
  • Coordinating the schedules of other public works projects
  • Developing final project plans
  • Passing a municipal underground resolution
  • Developing an underground design
  • Converting service panels for underground use
  • Starting construction
  • Installing underground services
  • Completing all street work
  • Removing existing poles from the project area

Contact Us

Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Electric Undergrounding
77 Beale Street, Mail Code H16B
P.O. Box 770000
San Francisco, CA 94177-0001