Counties Reach $55 Million Settlement With PG&E Over Wildfires

Six counties have reached a settlement with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) that will allow the utility to avoid criminal prosecution for its role in two devastating Northern California wildfires.

Faulty PG&E equipment was identified as the cause of last year’s Dixie Fire — the second largest wildfire in state history — as well as the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County.

The agreement was reached with district attorneys in Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta, Sonoma and Tehama. PG&E was under criminal investigation in five of the counties and facing a criminal indictment in Sonoma.

The utility will pay $55 million to the counties. $35 million will go to non-profit agencies including schools, fire departments, and community organizations. Sonoma County will receive $7.5 million in civil penalties, while the other five counties will receive $1 million each.

As part of the settlement, PG&E will help Santa Rosa Junior College expand its fire-technology and safety center and provide further support to its vegetation-management training program.

PG&E has also agreed to hire 160 to 180 new wildfire safety personnel across the six counties to improve vegetation management and equipment safety inspections. An independent monitor will oversee PG&E’s compliance for the next five years. The utility is not supposed to pass the costs on to customers.

PG&E is not out of the woods. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento is still investigating the utility’s role in the Dixie Fire and was not a party to the legal settlement. Additionally, PG&E is facing a slew of private lawsuits from victims and an indictment in Shasta county for the deadly Zogg Fire.

Read more at CNN and the Sacramento Bee.


Comments

Top Stories

Legal

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 11:59

Beginning this spring, San Francisco will join more conservative counties like Placer and Riverside in pursuing murder charges against fentanyl dealers whose products prove fatal.

Policy

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 10:22

The California Department of Public Health recorded 9,280 new cases of Coccidioidomycosis or “Valley Fever” last month, marking the highest number of cases ever documented by CDPH.

Finance

Monday, January 29, 2024 - 11:03

A state appeals court has upheld a decision by the Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Association (VCERA) prohibiting leave cashouts that “straddle” calendar years — a practice that has resulted