Judge Wants PG&E Power Restrictions for Next California Wildfire Season
In an order, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco also proposed that PG&E be required to reinspect its grid and “remove or trim all trees that could fall onto its power lines.”
The judge is overseeing conditions of PG&E’s probation following a 2010 gas pipeline explosion, and directed the company to respond to his proposed order by Jan. 23. Alsup scheduled a hearing for Jan. 30.
“We are aware of Judge Alsup’s orders and are currently reviewing,” a PG&E spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Alsup said the goal of modifying PG&E’s probation to include the new power restrictions was to eliminate the number of wildfires caused by PG&E in 2019.
“This will likely mean having to interrupt service during high-wind events (and possibly at other times),” Alsup wrote, “but that inconvenience, irritating as it will be, will pale by comparison to the death and destruction that otherwise might result from PG&E-inflicted wildfires.”
PG&E said in November it could face “significant liability” in excess of its insurance coverage if its equipment was found to have caused last year’s Camp fire in Northern California.
The Camp blaze killed at least 86 people, incinerating most of the Sierra foothills town of Paradise, 175 miles north of San Francisco.
PG&E also faces dozens of lawsuits from owners of homes and businesses that burned during 2017 fires.
(Reporting by Levine; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)
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