New information is coming to light about the cause of the Northern California wildfires. Keep up-to-date with the latest information here.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, incorporated in California in 1905, is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, the company is a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
There are approximately 20,000 employees who carry out Pacific Gas and Electric Company's primary business—the transmission and delivery of energy. The company provides natural gas and electric service to approximately 16 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company and other energy companies in the state are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Find out more about them HERE.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has indicated PG&E may be responsible for this month’s wildfires in Northern California.
Who is PG&E?
What is the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)?
The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at just and reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.
Find out more about them HERE.
The CPUC has indicated PG&E may be responsible for this month’s Northern California wildfires.
Regulatory agency launches investigation into CA wildfires
as reported by The Mercury News
PG&E power lines linked to Wine Country Fires
as reported by East Bay Times
Does PG&E have a history of causing fires?
In 1994, PG&E was found guilty of 739 counts of negligence and fined nearly $30 million by state regulators when trees touched its high-voltage wires in Nevada County in the Sierra foothills, sparking a fire near the town of Rough and Ready that destroyed 12 homes and a 19th century schoolhouse. Afterward, prosecutors found that PG&E had diverted nearly $80 million from its tree-cutting programs into profits.
In April of this year, the CPUC fined PG&E for its role in the Butte Fire in 2015, which destroyed 549 homes and killed two people in a fire that burned for 22 days, charring 70,868 acres of land. PG&E ended up paying an $8.3 million fine to the California Public Utilities Commission and $90 million to Cal Fire to cover firefighting costs. More than 1,000 lawsuits and claims are still pending against the utility.
PG&E was also fined previously for it's failure to properly maintain its natural gas lines, leading to the 2010 San Bruno explosion. Eight people died in the explosion, which destroyed 38 homes. The company was fined $1.6 billion by the CPUC, and a federal jury convicted the company on five charges of violating federal pipeline safety regulations and one charge of obstructing an official National Transportation Safety Board probe into the blast.
What previous California wildfires have been caused by electric companies?
In one example of a more extreme case, San Diego Gas & Electric paid out more than $2 billion to insurance companies, governmental agencies, homeowners, business owners, and others who suffered damage in 2007 when sparking power lines ignited brush in a remote area and started three major fires. The fires resulted in two deaths and the destruction of more than 1,200 homes and businesses. SDG&E conceded it was their equipment that sparked some of the blazes, but never admitted liability.
In 2007, the Malibu fires that burned more than a dozen structures were caused by Southern California Edison utility poles that fell during heavy winds; they paid $63.5 million in fines.