PG&E characterized as "continuing menace"
- Jan 24, 2022 10:41 pm GMT
You’ve gotta have really tough skin to work at PG&E these days. On the eve of ending their 5-year probation for their role in a 2010 natural gas pipeline, PG&E has been characterized as a “continuing menace” in a report written by their probation judge, U.S. District Judge William Alsup. The federal judge also pointed out that the power company had ignited at least 31 wildfires that had burned almost 1.5 million acres and killed 113 people during its probation. He went on to lambast the company for failing to remove unattended hazard trees and vegetation.
While I don’t think Judge Alsup is wrong that PG&E’s infrastructure still presents wildfire risks, or that they need to do a better job clearing hazard trees, I find his tone a bit exaggerated. He, and so many others commenting on PG&E’s recent woes, often make it sound like the utility has single handedly caused all the destruction we’ve witnessed in California. Global warming, very bad forest management, and over-development are rarely brought up in these conversations. How well would other utilities have done given the circumstances?
In any case, PG&E is still in a very tough spot. They are under enormous pressure to mitigate any future fires, however solutions are limited and very expensive. And really, when we’re talking about solutions to PG&E’s problems, we’re talking about burying the grid. The company has already announced plans to put 10,000 miles of their most problematic lines underground. But who knows how long that will take, and they’ll still have something like 71,000 miles of line above ground. Tough times for PG&E.
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