sunny.png
Thursday December 12th, 2019 11:48AM

Pacific Gas & Electric vows to improve wildfire prevention

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Up to five million California customers could temporarily lose power this year in the name of wildfire prevention if regulators approve Pacific Gas & Electric's $2.3 billion safety proposal submitted Wednesday.

PG&E unveiled the preventive blackout strategy for the first time late last year, getting regulatory permission to turn out the lights to 570,000 customers living in wildfire-prone areas during high-danger weather.

In a regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E asked for permission to cut power during wildfire threats throughout its entire system serving 5.4 million customers in the northern and central parts of the state.

A consumer advocacy group says it's disappointed with the utility's emphasis on blackouts.

San Francisco-based The Utility Reform Network says PG&E's proposal to shut power during wildfire threats should be an emergency response only rather than a routine preventive measure.

Spokeswoman Mindy Spatt called on PG&E to make improving the safety of its equipment and training of its workers more of a priority than cutting power. "It puts customers in harm's way," she said

The utility also promised to overhaul much of its wildfire-prevention measures in response to growing legal, financial and public pressure for its role in starting some of the most destructive blazes in California history.

The embattled utility also vowed to increase inspections, cut more trees and work with forestry experts to lessen its role in starting wildfires.

A new state law passed in response to the destructive 2017 wildfires required the state's utilities to file their wildfire-prevention plans with the California Public Utilities Commission. The agency has scheduled several public meetings to review and amend the proposals before they are adopted.

A federal judge who said he's skeptical of PG&E's safety commitment also demanded the wildfire plan.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup is threatening to impose sweeping prevention measures on the utility, proposals PG&E said could cost as much $150 billion. The utility said Wednesday its plan will cost between $1.7 billion and $2.3 billion.

Alsup ruled last month that PG&E's response to a 2017 wildfire violated probation terms included in its felony conviction for a deadly 2010 natural pipeline explosion in a San Francisco suburb.

In response, Alsup proposed PG&E workers inspect, document and rate every inch of its 2,400 square-mile electrical system and remove or trim trees threatening to touch equipment and start fires. PG&E said that could require removing up to 100 million trees. Alsup said he will determine PG&E's sentence later.

On Wednesday, PG&E proposed removing 375,000 trees this year after cutting down 160,000 last year. PG&E also said it would increase in-depth pole inspections from 9,400 last year to 40,600 this year and building 200 weather stations in addition to the 200 existing stations.

The utility said it also planned to bury underground or wrap in insulation 150 miles of bare wire next year and 7,100 miles over the next decade.

State fire authorities blamed PG&E's equipment for starting 17 major wildfires in the last two years. The San Francisco-based utility is facing more than 1,000 wildfire-related lawsuits. The utility filed for bankruptcy last month, saying the lawsuits could cost more than $30 billion.

Seven other utilities, including Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, also submitted plans Wednesday, but none included the significant reforms PG&E was proposing.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), 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.
Arizona city officials want border wall's razor wire removed
Officials in a small Arizona border city passed a resolution Wednesday night condemning the installation of new razor wire that now covers the entirety of a tall border wall through downtown
9:12PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Political crisis engulfs Virginia's top 3 elected officials
Political crisis engulfs Virginia's top 3 elected officials, all Democrats, and threatens to take them down
8:56PM ( 26 minutes ago )
The Latest: AP source: Bulls land Porter Jr. from Washington
The Latest: AP source: Otto Porter Jr. leaving Washington for Chicago, for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis
8:44PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Fed Chairman Powell urges plain speaking at Fed
Powell says he relies on jargon-free speech to boost public support of the central bank
7:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
Spotify takes a big jump into the podcasting game
Spotify is making a bigger bet on podcasts as it looks to bring a Netflix-like model of original programs to the audio world
7:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Some workers still unpaid after shutdown, dread what's next
Many federal workers are still reeling financially and waiting to be made whole after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history
7:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Arizona may require license for care facilities after rape
Arizona may boost state oversight of long-term care facilities like the one in Phoenix where an incapacitated woman was raped and later gave birth
6:39PM ( 2 hours ago )
Gas line explosion in San Francisco sets buildings on fire
An explosion on a gas line in San Francisco has prompted evacuations of nearby buildings
5:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: 5 workers found safe after San Francisco blast
The San Francisco Fire Department says five workers have been found safe after a gas explosion and fire and that no injuries have been reported
5:26PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
UN experts: North Korea nukes intact, dispersing missiles
U.N. experts say North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs "remain intact" and it is dispersing its missile assembly and testing to prevent "decapitation" strikes
6:31PM ( 1 day ago )
Exxon, Qatar Petroleum to expand LNG export plant in Texas
Exxon and Qatar Petroleum say they will go ahead with plans for a $10 billion project to export liquefied natural gas from a facility in Texas
4:27PM ( 1 day ago )
Turkey, Greece stress need for dialogue
The leaders of Turkey and Greece have agreed on the need to keep "channels of dialogue" open between their neighboring countries
3:49PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Arizona city officials want border wall's razor wire removed
Officials in a small Arizona border city passed a resolution Wednesday night condemning the installation of new razor wire that now covers the entirety of a tall border wall through downtown
9:12PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Political crisis engulfs Virginia's top 3 elected officials
Political crisis engulfs Virginia's top 3 elected officials, all Democrats, and threatens to take them down
8:56PM ( 26 minutes ago )
The Latest: AP source: Bulls land Porter Jr. from Washington
The Latest: AP source: Otto Porter Jr. leaving Washington for Chicago, for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis
8:44PM ( 37 minutes ago )
San Francisco gas explosion shoots fire that burns buildings
An explosion on a gas line in San Francisco prompted evacuations of nearby buildings
8:41PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Woman accuses elected Virginia official of sexual assault
Woman goes public with details of sexual assault accusation against Virginia's lieutenant governor
8:40PM ( 41 minutes ago )