Wall Street Journal: PG&E Knew for Years that Its Systems Could Spark a Fire, but Failed to Act

According to a Wall Street Journal article published on July 10, 2019, PG&E knew for years that its transmission system needed repairs but kept delaying. Worse, many of these repairs are still needed today.

PG&E was well aware of the repairs needed to the transmission line that sparked the 2018 Camp Fire, according to documents gathered by the Wall Street Journal.  Specifically, the article states that PG&E knew that 46 of the towers that carried the line needed to be replaced entirely.

According to the article, PG&E told federal regulators in 2013 that it planned to overhaul the Caribou-Palermo line. In 2018, however, no repairs had been made and ultimately failing hardware on the line ignited to cause the 2018 Camp Fire,  which would become the deadliest wildfire in California history.

According to The Wall Street Journal

PG&E repeatedly delayed upgrades of some of its oldest transmission lines, ranking them as low-risk projects, while it spent billions of dollars on other work it considered higher priority, such as substation upgrades.

PG&E is still delaying many needed repairs to its transmission system, according to the article. In a 2017 internal presentation, PG&E estimated the mean life expectancy of its towers to be 65 years old. Towers constructed in the early 1900s are still in use today.

Although PG&E has de-activated the line that caused the Camp Fire, many lines similar in age and needed repairs are still active today. The article states that many other lines have been scheduled for repair, but repairs have been delayed to the second half of next year, and even as late as 2021.

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