Watch our own Amanda Riddle discuss her experience in litigation with PG&E on NBC Bay Area.
This history of negligence and conscious disregard for public safety by PG&E matters, and is relevant to ongoing investigations about the cause of the North Bay, Wine Country, and Mendocino and Butte County fires.
- Within the first 90 minutes of the fires, Sonoma County emergency dispatchers sent fire crews to respond to at least 10 reports of downed PG&E power lines and exploding transformers
Investigators have ordered PG&E to preserve all equipment possibly related to the fires — including poles, wires, conductors and transformers, and other infrastructure.
- PG&E’s vegetation management program is alleged to be insufficient
PG&E passes its regulatory responsibilities for maintaining the vegetation along its power lines on to contractors. PG&E does not ensure that these contractors are properly qualified and trained. PG&E audits the work of the contractors, but its audits are statistically invalid and ineffective, a fact PG&E knows but doesn’t fix. Investigators have ordered PG&E to preserve all internal electronic and non-electronic communications about possible causes of the fires, and information about vegetation, maintenance, and tree-trimming in the year and months before the Northern California fires.
- PG&E permits 1 out of 100 trees to violate state power line clearance standards
PG&E auditors give passing grades when just 99% of trees are compliant with state regulations concerning their proximity to utilities infrastructure. In California, power lines are in close proximity to 55 million trees. With a 99% compliance rate, some half a million trees are in violation of clearance standards and pose a hazard to the community.
- PG&E Fudges the numbers to reach 99% compliance with power line clearance standards
When PG&E has been unable in the past to reach 99% compliance with state power line clearance standards, the company has simply expanded the audit sample, or the area of trees surveyed.
- Documents that our team uncovered in the Butte Fire case show that PG&E’s North Coast Bay region is at greatest risk of tree-caused wildfire.
An estimated half million trees lining PG&E power lines violate regulations. These are just the trees that PG&E knows about and does not further investigate.