Judge Issues New PG&E Probation Conditions to Prevent Wildfires

The federal judge overseeing PG&E’s probation for the deadly gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010 has added new requirements for the utility company. In order to prevent more fatal wildfires, the judge is requiring PG&E to follow all California state laws regarding tree trimming around utility lines and to follow the company’s own existing plan for tree trimming, which includes hiring enough staff to implement the plan. PG&E must also suspend shareholder dividends until the tree trimming requirement is met. And PG&E is now required to consent to be monitored with unannounced inspections.

The same judge overseeing a different PG&E probation noted that PG&E violated its probation terms by failing to report that the company agreed on a settlement with Butte County for a 2017 fire in order to avoid criminal prosecution. As a result of this violation, the judge is considering extending the probation for an additional year.

Several of the Northern California Fire Lawyers were interviewed and provided comments on the judge’s changes to PG&E’s probation terms:

Mike Danko told KRON4,

I was pleased that the judge recognized beyond any doubt PG&E is culpable and it was responsible for the fires in 2017 in particular and likely in 2018.

Dario de Ghetaldi stated to NBC Bay Area, “What the judge did today was great.” Speaking about his hope that the judge makes the court ordered progress reports available to the public, de Ghetaldi added, “It’s about time that somebody did something along those lines. So I’m very appreciative of that.

Wildfire attorney Amanda Riddle commented to ABC7’s I-Team,

I think that we’ve got a judge who really understands we have a wildfire crisis in California and that PG&E is the core of that, and he’s holding them accountable and doing everything to make sure we don’t have more disasters in the years to come.

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