rainn.png
Friday December 13th, 2019 7:38AM

PG&E says blackouts limited fires despite 1 likely failure

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The nation’s largest utility said Friday that its distribution lines haven’t sparked any major wildfires since it began shutting off power to Northern California customers during periods of high fire risk.

However, Pacific Gas & Electric is not ruling out the possibility that failed transmission equipment may have started a fire north of San Francisco that damaged or destroyed more than 400 structures.

Authorities have not determined what sparked that blaze last month in Sonoma County, but the utility has said it had a problem at a transmission tower near the site where the fire started. PG&E said in a court filing Friday that it is not aware of similar vulnerable equipment elsewhere.

PG&E has said it shut off power to distribution lines to prevent wildfires, but left electricity flowing through what it believed were less vulnerable transmission lines.

Distribution lines carry power to homes, while transmission lines move it from a power plant.

“In 2019, there have been no fatalities and no structures destroyed in any wildfire that may have been caused by PG&E distribution lines,” the company said.

PG&E has acknowledged its equipment caused a fire last year that killed 85 people and burned nearly 19,000 structures, nearly destroying the Sierra Nevada foothills community of Paradise.

PG&E has said it could potentially be held liable for 21 wildfires in 2017 that killed 44 people and destroyed 8,900 buildings.

The PG&E statement Friday “sets the bar unbelievably low, if that’s the standard now: ‘We didn’t kill anybody,’” said Mindy Spatt, spokeswoman for The Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group.

Most consumers don’t care about the distinction between distribution lines and transmission lines, she said. “Negligence is still negligence.”

The utility has faced scathing criticism for shutting off power to millions of people for days at a time to avoid more fire tragedies. It said Friday that “the sole focus” of the blackouts is to reduce wildfire risk; that it recognizes the hardships they cause; and the company is working to minimize the impact of future shutoffs.

The company declared bankruptcy in January as it faced up to $30 billion in damages from wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that were started by its electrical equipment.

Lawyers for wildfire victims and PG&E now are considering whether new claims related to the most recent fire will be included in the bankruptcy case.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing the utility's felony probation for a deadly natural gas explosion in 2010, required officials to provide more details Friday about a jumper cable that broke moments before last month’s fire was reported.

The company said the tower with the detached cable had been routinely visually inspected from the ground in July, with a drone in May, and by a contractor crew that climbed the tower in February as part of the utility’s wildfire safety inspection program.

They spotted no problems with the jumper cables, the company reported.

The judge asked whether the public must fear that other cables that passed inspection could also fail.

PG&E said is investigating but is not currently aware of any other jumper cables that are vulnerable.

The company said it had inspected about 750,000 distribution and transmission structures in high-risk areas and “repaired or made safe all of the highest-priority conditions” by September, before last month’s fire.

“They inspected a tower three times and it still failed,” Spatt said. “They’re saying the options are we can either shut you off or start a fire. There should be an option to provide reliable electricity. That’s what we pay for.”

As of mid-September, PG&E believed its equipment had contributed to nine fires this year that were 10 acres or greater but caused no damage or deaths.

The utility said Friday that it found 23 instances where vegetation or high winds had damaged its power lines or equipment during the Oct. 23 power shut off, 19 of which would likely have caused sparking had the power been on.

It said it found 285 sites with vegetation or wind damage during the Oct. 26 and Oct. 29 shut-offs, 199 of which could otherwise have caused fires.

___

Associated Press writer Michael Liedtke contributed from San Francisco.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
PG&E says blackouts limited fires despite 1 likely failure
The nation’s largest utility said its distribution lines haven’t sparked any major wildfires since it began shutting off power to Northern California customers during periods of high fire risk
7:28PM ( 4 minutes ago )
No. 17 Memphis tops No. 18 Cincinnati 34-24 to host AAC game
Brady White threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns as No. 17 Memphis beat 18th-ranked Cincinnati 34-24 for the Tigers’ third straight West Division title and the right to host the American Athletic Conference championship.
7:03PM ( 29 minutes ago )
London police fatally shoot suspect in attack that killed 2
A man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people before being tackled by members of the public and then shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge, police and the city’s mayor say
6:58PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Dutch police: 3 people wounded in Hague stabbing
Dutch police say 3 people have been injured in a stabbing in The Hague’s main shopping street
5:20PM ( 2 hours ago )
Court convicts Suriname leader in killings of 15 opponents
A court in the South American country of Suriname has convicted President Desi Bouterse in the 1982 killings of 15 political opponents and sentenced him to 20 years in prison
5:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
Head start on holiday deals tempers Black Friday frenzy
Early deals dampen Black Friday frenzy after retailers gave shoppers a head start to compensate for shorter holiday shopping season
5:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
US stocks close out half-day session with broad losses
Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street Friday following a shortened trading session a day after the Thanksgiving holiday that left the market slightly below its record highs
3:19PM ( 4 hours ago )
Brazil’s president criticizes DiCaprio over Amazon fires
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday said actor Leonardo DiCaprio had funded nonprofit groups that he claimed are partly responsible for widespread fires in the Amazon rainforest this year
2:49PM ( 4 hours ago )
Flames coach Bill Peters quits; accused of slurs, abuse
Calgary coach Bill Peters resigns amid allegations of slurs, player abuse in previous jobs
2:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
US stocks head lower in half-day session after Thanksgiving
Stocks are moving lower in morning trading on Wall Street as the market pulls back after a week of record highs for the major indexes
12:00PM ( 7 hours ago )
Tech, health care companies lead US stocks slightly lower
Stocks are edging lower in early trading on Wall Street as the market pulls back after a week of record highs for the major indexes
10:23AM ( 9 hours ago )
Eurozone inflation firms but still below central bank goal
Official figures show that inflation across the 19-country eurozone rose in November but remains way below the level that the European Central Bank and its new president, Christine Lagarde, would like it to be
5:01AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Officials: Iraq protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf
Anti-government protesters burn down an Iranian consulate building in southern Iraq, while six protesters were killed by security forces who fired live rounds amid ongoing violence
3:19PM ( 2 days ago )
Anti-government protesters burn down Iranian consulate
Anti-government protesters burned down the Iranian consulate building in southern Iraq, while six protesters were killed by security forces who fired live rounds amid ongoing violence
2:33PM ( 2 days ago )
Iran says protesters attacked hundreds of banks, blaming US
Iran says protesters angry over spiking government-set gasoline prices attacked hundreds of banks, police outposts and gas stations
1:06PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
No. 17 Memphis tops No. 18 Cincinnati 34-24 to host AAC game
Brady White threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns as No. 17 Memphis beat 18th-ranked Cincinnati 34-24 for the Tigers’ third straight West Division title and the right to host the American Athletic Conference championship.
7:03PM ( 29 minutes ago )
London police fatally shoot suspect in attack that killed 2
A man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people before being tackled by members of the public and then shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge, police and the city’s mayor say
6:58PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Elite US climber Gobright dies rappelling down rock face
California rock climber Brad Gobright reportedly reached the top of a highly challenging rock face route in northern Mexico, and was rappelling down with a companion when he fell to his death
6:47PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Trump to decide if he wants lawyers at impeachment hearings
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is giving President Donald Trump a week to decide if he’ll be sending his attorneys to participate in impeachment proceedings before the panel
6:38PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Assailant wounds 3 in stabbing in busy Hague shopping area
Assailant wounds 3 in stabbing in busy Hague shopping district; police search for suspect
6:22PM ( 1 hour ago )