PG&E Sued for Camp Fire, Gov. Brown Also Under Fire
Pacific Gas and Electric (“PG&E”) recently closed a $25 million deal to end a lawsuit over a 2015 wildfire in northern California (finalized 11/13/18). On the same day, victims of the Camp Fire in Butte County sued accusing the utility of negligence and blaming it for the fire. Victims stated that the company’s failure to maintain its infrastructure led to the blaze. The suit alleges that PG&E did not maintain its infrastructure and failed to properly inspect and manage its power transmission lines.
The Camp Fire was reportedly caused when a high voltage transmission line failed, igniting a vegetation fire. As of November 19th the fire is 60% contained, has burned over 150,000 acres, has killed at least 80 people, and over 1,000 people remain unaccounted for. The lawsuit blames the company’s corporate culture, noting fines, penalties, and convictions that have resulted from the company’s poor safety record.
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2016 veto of a wildfire-related bill is also facing new scrutiny in the wake of the deadliest, most destructive week of fires in state history.
The measure would have required the California Public Utility Commission to work with municipalities to ensure that energy companies to identify and do all they can to prevent fires in high-risk areas.
When he vetoed the bill, Brown dismissed it as unnecessary and redundant to efforts the utility commission had already begun, arguing that it would gum up the process already underway.