After a $43.4 million settlement, PG&E is still facing 33 criminal charges.
After agreeing to pay $43.4 million to three Northern California counties where an unmaintained power infrastructure contributed to wildfires over the past two years, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) still faces 33 criminal charges.
The funding will be distributed to ten government agencies in the counties of Sonoma, Shasta, and Tehama, where the Kincade and Zogg Fires wrought havoc.
The remaining accusations against PG&E, all of which the company rejects, deal with the public health risk posed by the Kincade Fire and the injuries sustained by six firefighters as a result.
After the state of California submitted a report on PG&E’s involvement in the Zogg Fire, the Shasta County District Attorney’s office may be able to file criminal charges.
PG&E serves nearly 16 million people in the impacted counties with electricity, but the company’s decaying equipment and electrical lines have caused citizens difficulty in recent years. In 2017 and 2018, wildfires started by PG&E equipment burned over 28,000 buildings and killed over 100 people, resulting in a new $13.8 billion settlement and the company pleading guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
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After emerging from bankruptcy protection last summer, PG&E chose Patricia “Patti” Poppe as its new CEO to manage the company’s attempts to rebuild its system over the course of the next decade and, in this case, clean up some of its past messes.
“When I first started at PG&E earlier this year, I promised myself that I would make things right and safe for our customers and communities,” Poppe said.
Even Nevertheless, PG&E’s actions prior to Poppe’s arrival in January continue to plague the company.
Last month, California power regulators chastised PG&E for its continued negligence of its electrical lines during the previous year. And the utility is set to testify before a federal judge next week to determine whether its part in the Kindcade Fire violated the rules of its probation for a criminal conviction that was handed down when its natural gas lines exploded in a suburban area south of San Francisco in 2010.