PG&E Faces Judge Over Fire Safety Commitment.
As PG&E ((https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/PCG?p=PCG&.tsrc=fin-srch) PCG ) filed for (https://www.ibtimes.com/pge-bankruptcy-filing-whats-next-utility-what-it-means-customers-2753073) bankruptcy on Tuesday, it was berated by a federal judge about its commitment to fire safety the next day as it violated its probation after the San Bruno, California pipeline explosion.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup strongly questioned PG&E's commitment to reduce fire risks saying, "Safety is not your No. 1 thing,"
Judge Alsup said he would wait until the utility had a fire safety plan in place next week as California state law now requires the plan.
Alsup did suggest a strict fire safety plan for (https://www.ibtimes.com/pge-bankruptcy-6-most-important-things-know-2756886) PG&E to follow in 2019, which included inspection of powerlines over 100,000 miles, blackouts in dangerous weather conditions, and enhancement of the company's tree trimming efforts.
PG&E attorneys argued that the suggestion for the fire safety plan was unrealistic, saying it would cost $75 billion to implement, according to court papers.
Judge Alsup also ruled that PG&E was in violation of its probation for the San Bruno pipeline explosion as it did not properly notify the probation department of possible criminal charges for the 2017 Honey Fire in Butte County. Alsup did not order penalties for the probation violation at the time.
PG&E attorney Kevin Orsini argued that the utility is working "night and day" to increase its fire safety measures but is dealing with issues such as a qualified tree trimmer shortage and blackout complexities. Orsini also said that it would take eight years to perform the tree trimming required by Alsup's plan.
Alsup maintained his stance saying, "I don't buy that there isn't enough people." He also accused PG&E of moving too slowly and wasting billions by paying shareholders instead of trimming trees and enhancing its fire safety plan.
Alsup said in court, in six months, "the fire season will be on us and the emergency will be on us, and will we see another headline, 'PG&E has done it again, they've burned down another town?'"
In an emailed statement to the (https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article225289445.html) Sacramento Bee , the utility said, "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 (https://www.ibtimes.com/pge-update-utility-cleared-liability-tubbs-wildfire-2756159) 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."
Shares of PG&E were down 4.90 percent as of 7:12 p.m. ET on Thursday.
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|Publication:||International Business Times - US ed.|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2019|
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