PG&E says new probation conditions ‘undermine wildfire safety’

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PG&E Corp. is asking a court to halt a recent round of probation requirements, saying they are “more likely to undermine wildfire safety than they are to promote it.”

The company is challenging four new requirements laid out by a judge on April 29, including that the company employ its own inspectors for vegetation management, that it identify the age of equipment on every transmission tower and line, and that it ensure its inspection contractors carry enough insurance in case a fire erupts.

The requirements interfere with actions by the state Legislature and the regulator, the California Public Utilities’ Commission, to address the same issues, the San Francisco-based company said in a court filing dated Wednesday. To meet the new conditions, PG&E said it would be “forced to divert significant resources from its CPUC-approved Wildfire Safety Plan to satisfy the Court’s conditions, with no evidence that those conditions will enhance safety and a risk that they may well decrease it.”


California’s largest utility is on probation after being convicted in 2016 of gas-pipeline safety crimes. Judge William Alsup has pushed the company to prevent its equipment from causing another devastating wildfire, as happened in 2017. PG&E is working through probation as it simultaneously navigates a complicated exit from bankruptcy.

PG&E said it reached a settlement with the Butte County district attorney’s office on March 17. The utility’s critics say the plea deal is too lenient.

March 23, 2020