Last Friday, PG&E told U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup that it isn’t able to comply with state rules designed to reduce wildfire risks 100 percent of the time. Judge Alsup is in charge of PG&E’s felony probation for safety violations and obstruction of justice convictions and continues to criticize PG&E’s safety procedures. In a court filing, PG&E estimated that to make its electrical lines safe, they would need to hire 650,000 new employees, at a cost of up to $150 billion, and a rate increase to customers of at least 500%.
You may have heard that PG&E is considering selling the natural gas division from its electrical business. In a state filing, PG&E said splitting the company might “improve the development of each entity’s safety management system”. The natural gas portion of PG&E accounts for approximately 25% of the company’s revenue according to a report from the Sacramento Bee. Selling the natural gas division could raise substantial funds to help pay wildfire liabilities, although there is no estimate on how much a potential sale would raise.
Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced three bills to the state senate on Friday Feb. 22, pushing for greater oversight of state utilities. Hill said the purpose of the bills are to “protect the ratepayers and consumers of PG&E from excessive rates and from hazardous conditions.”
Camp Fire survivors are being targeted on Facebook in a scam that involves an offer of assistance for those who lost property in the fire. The victim is asked to pay an “application fee” to receive monetary assistance. The financial assistance is then not provided and the scammer keeps the gift cards the person purchased and sent to them. Be aware that assistance programs do not ask for Amazon gift cards as their application fee.
Earlier, PG&E asked the bankruptcy judge to approve bonuses to its employees totaling $130 million. We objected, arguing that “every dollar PG&E pays out to its executives in bonuses is a dollar the victims who were burned out by those executives don’t get.” While sympathetic to our argument, the bankruptcy judge ruled that, under the controlling bankruptcy law, he had no alternative but to approve PG&E’s request.
Now, buckling to pressure from the Northern California Fire Lawyers as well as from the victims themselves, PG&E has decided not to pay those bonuses after all. As reported in the Sacramento Bee, PG&E’s interim CEO acknowledges that not paying the bonuses may cause a hardship on PG&E employees, “But we believe as a whole that the hardships on others are in many cases significantly greater.” Ya think?