Underground Utility Districts
Utility undergrounding is the conversion of
existing overhead electric and communication facilities to underground
In 1967, the Public Utilities Commission
required new electric service connections to be placed underground and funded a
gradual program to replace existing overhead distribution lines with new
Public Utilities Commission provides three rules — 20A, 20B, and 20C — that
govern different types of areas to be undergrounded. The key difference among the three rules is
the party responsible for paying the utility undergrounding costs.
Under the County-administered Rule 20A program, PG&E and other
affected utilities are responsible for a majority of the cost.
Under Rule 20B, property owners or developers pay most of the cost,
excluding the cost of removing overhead poles, lines, and facilities.
Under Rule 20C, property owners pay the entire cost, less a credit for
the salvage value of removed facilities.
The three rules will be described briefly here. Although these rules apply specifically to
PG&E, similar rules exist for overhead communication facilities, which must
be placed underground at the same time as the electric facilities.
projects are typically in areas of a community that are used most by the
general public. To qualify, a project
must meet the following provisions:
· The County has determined, through public hearings and consultation
with PG&E, that undergrounding is in the general public interest by
improving the safety or aesthetics of roads, sidewalks, civic areas,
recreational areas, or scenic points of interest that are extensively used by
the public at large.
· All existing overhead
communication and electric distribution facilities will have been removed from
the project area upon the completion of work.
· All affected property
owners will have installed the electric
service panels, lateral lines, and other facilities needed to receive
PG&E’s underground service prior to discontinuation of overhead service,
and at their own expense with possible PG&E assistance.
· The area designated for
undergrounding extends for at least one block or 600 feet.
projects usually involve larger developments or even neighborhoods which do not
fit the Rule 20A criteria, but which involve at least both sides of a street
for 600 feet or more.
Under Rule 20B, the applicant is responsible for the
installation of the conduit, substructures, boxes, service panels and all costs
associated with completing installtion of the underground system. PG&E pays
for the removal of overhead facilities.
projects are usually smaller projects involving a few property owners, where
neither Rule 20A nor Rule 20B applies. The costs are borne almost entirely by
the applicants, less a credit for the salvage value of removed facilities.
Potential benefits of Undergrounding
· Enhanced aesthetics.
· Increased property value.
· Improved public safety.
· More reliable service.
· Reduced fire risk.
· Cost savings through reduced maintenance.
Current Project List
Bay Point Utility Undergrounding Project
The County Public Works
Department maintains a priority list of potential Rule 20A projects in
unincorporated Contra Costa County. For
more information, please call (925) 313-2000, or visit the Public Works
For more information on Rule 20B and 20C
projects, please visit the “Rule 20 Electric Undergrounding Program” page in
the “Field Work and Projects” section of
the PG&E website: