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PG&E spends $125 million to ignite the massive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County

Pacific Gas & Electric has reached a $125 million settlement with California regulators over the destructive Kincade Fire, which was ignited in 2019 by utility company equipment in an area backcountry of Sonoma County. and spent another $85 million to remove abandoned transmission equipment throughout the utility’s territory as part of an agreement approved by the California Public Utilities Commission at its December 2 meeting. The agreement was reached after the commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division found a fault with the maintenance and condition of a high-voltage PG&E transmission tower that remained energized for many years despite it serving a single plant. Calpine generator is no longer working. still powered but also left with dangling and unsecured jumper cables. One of them broke and hit the tower during a strong gust of wind on the night of October 23, 2019, burning vegetation on the ground, the report said. destroyed 174 houses and about 200 other structures, and injured 4 people. An estimated 190,000 residents, nearly two-fifths of Sonoma County’s population, have been ordered to evacuate. “PG&E let the derelict equipment operate for thirteen years even though it provided no benefit or convenience to the public,” the enforcement report said. The investigation is separate from that conducted by Cal Fire last year into the largest wildfire in Sonoma County history of high-voltage transmission towers in the Mayacamas Mountains. The Court of Appeal, where PG&E was charged with five felony counts and 28 misdemeanors, alleging the utility recklessly started the fire. In particular, the company believes that the Calpine unit serviced by the tower is in a “cold standby” state, meaning it can be brought back into service, said spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo. Paulo added that the company agreed to settle with the commission, although disagreeing with the alleged violations, in the hope that it “will assist in allowing all parties to proceed with the fire and allowing us to focus on compensating victims and making our energy system safer,” the company said in a statement. PG&E has settled with Sonoma County and its partners. The cities of Windsor, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa and Cloverdale, agreed last May to pay $31 million in damages related to a public safety response to (Video above: PG&E pays districts) settled with counties, cities on Kincade, Zogg Fire) The company filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Rated a Camp Fire of 2018, which wiped out most of the town of Paradise and was ignited by its devices. It also faces multiple criminal charges for fires caused by frayed equipment, including four manslaughter charges filed by Shasta County prosecutors in September. Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, whom the county suffered most of the damage from the Kincade fire, said Wednesday he remains troubled by PG&E’s lack of transparency and accountability. Gore said. “Let’s call it what it is.” A historic drought and recent heatwaves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Climate change has made the region much warmer and drier over the past 30 years, scientists say, and will continue to make extreme weather and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists say. .

Pacific Gas & Electric has reached a $125 million settlement with California regulators over the destructive Kincade fire, ignited in 2019 by the utility’s equipment in a remote area. of Sonoma County.

PG&E shareholders will pay a $40 million fine to the state general fund and spend another $85 million to remove abandoned transmission equipment across the utility company’s territory as part of the settlement. The agreement was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission at its December 2 meeting.

The agreement was reached after the commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division found a fault in the maintenance and condition of the high-voltage PG&E transmission tower that had remained in service for many years despite it serving a plant. Calpine electricity no longer works.

Although the tower was disconnected from the facility in 2006, the 230,000-volt transmission equipment was not only powered, but was also suspended with slings and unsecured. According to the report, one of them broke and crashed into the tower during strong winds on the night of October 23, 2019, burning vegetation on the ground.

The Kincade Fire will burn nearly 122 square miles (316 square kilometers), destroy 174 homes and about 200 other structures, and injure four people. An estimated 190,000 residents, nearly two-fifths of Sonoma County’s population, have been ordered to evacuate.

The enforcement report said: “PG&E let the abandoned equipment operate for thirteen years even though it provided no benefit or convenience to the public.

The agency’s investigation is separate from that conducted by Cal Fire, which last year tracked the largest wildfire in Sonoma County history, with high-voltage transmission towers in the Mayacamas Mountains. .

It is also independent of a criminal case still pending in Sonoma County Superior Court, where PG&E was charged with five felonies and 28 misdemeanors with the utility of recklessly starting the fire. .

A PG&E spokesman said Wednesday that the utility disputes several features of the utility commission’s investigation. In particular, the company believes that the Calpine unit serviced by the tower is in a “cold standby” state, meaning it can be brought back into service, said spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo.

Calpine also continues to pay a monthly service fee and has been testing equipment as part of its bushfire prevention efforts, Paulo added.

The company agreed to a settlement with the committee, though disagreeing with the alleged violations, in the hope that it “will assist in allowing all parties to continue to deal with the fire and allow us to focus focused on compensating victims and making our energy system safer,” the utility said in a statement.

PG&E settled with Sonoma County and the cities of Windsor, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa and Cloverdale, agreeing last May to pay $31 million in damages related to the public safety response to the wildfires. .

(Video above: PG&E settles settlements with counties, cities on Kincade, Fire Zogg)

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the 2018 Camp Fire, which wiped out much of the town of Paradise and was sparked by its devices. It also faces multiple criminal charges for fires caused by frayed equipment, including four counts of manslaughter filed by Shasta County prosecutors in September.

Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, whose county suffered most of the damage from the Kincade fire, said Wednesday he remains troubled by PG&E’s lack of transparency and accountability.

“You know, it’s interesting when a payoff is actually spending money that you should have spent on something before,” says Gore. “Let’s call it what it is.”

A historic drought and recent heatwaves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Climate change has made the region much warmer and drier over the past 30 years, scientists say, and will continue to make extreme weather and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists say. .

https://www.kcra.com/article/pgande-to-spend-dollar125m-for-igniting-massive-kincade-fire-in-sonoma-county/38164461 PG&E spends $125 million to ignite the massive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County

JOE HERNANDEZ

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