PG&E appeared in court on its criminal probation from the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno; it committed safety violations and obstructed justice. Now, the judge wants them to do better at preventing wildfires.
Pacific Gas and Electric's Interim CEO John Simon did not want to talk about what happened in federal court today.
The I-Team's Dan Noyes was the only reporter Tuesday to question Simon, asking, "Anything at all to the consumers who are worried about the wildfires for the coming season? Mr. Simon, the judge is clearly worried about this."
PG&E must come up with a new and improved wildfire mitigation plan by next Wednesday, and Judge William Alsup pushed them to trim trees around power lines to reduce wildfires caused by PG&E equipment to zero.
He threatened further oversight if PGE doesn't get the job done.
"I think what the judge was talking about more importantly was having the federal probation officer bring in the CAL Fire to see whether or not they were violations of the probation," said plaintiffs' attorney Steve Campora. "And those matters could be heard on expedited basis."
The judge found that PG&E violated its criminal probation in the San Bruno pipeline explosion, by not informing the court that the utility was under investigation by the Butte County District Attorney's Office for the 2018 Honey Fire. A tree hitting a power line caused the blaze, that burned 150 acres.
PG&E issued a statement this afternoon, "PG&E shares the court's commitment to safety and agrees with the urgency that we all have to work together to reduce the risk of wildfire throughout Northern and Central California.
We look forward to working with the court and probation on how we might enhance our communications efforts.
We understand that PG&E must play a leading role in implementing change that will help further mitigate wildfire risk and have taken a number of important and meaningful actions to do so."
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Judge Alsup spent a lot of time with wildfire victims' attorney Frank Pitri, who said PG&E should follow "the gold standard" set by San Diego Gas and Electric. Several years ago, the utility began cutting power to its lines when there's high fire danger, giving customers advanced warning.
Pitri told the court, there have been no catastrophic wildfires there since.
"He sent a loud message that he wants a solution he wants people to collaborate on getting it right," Pitri said outside federal court today. "And he wants to do it immediately."
PG&E has to come up with a new and improved plan to reduce wildfire danger in one week. Judge Alsup wants to see that, and said he will consider ordering PG&E to take other steps, including adopting the San Diego model.
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