PG&E To Pay $125M Settlement For A Sonoma County Fire
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Sonora, CA — Pacific Gas & Electric has reached a $125 million settlement agreement with California regulators for the destructive 2019 Kincade Fire determined to be ignited by the utility’s equipment in a remote area of Sonoma County.
The blaze torched nearly 122 square miles, destroying 174 homes and nearly 200 other structures, and injuring four people. Almost two-fifths of Sonoma County’s population, about 190,000 residents, were forced to flee their homes. The agreement stipulates that PG&E shareholders would pay a $40 million fine to the state general fund and spend another $85 million for the removal of abandoned transmission equipment throughout the utility’s territory. The agreement was reached after a report by the commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division stated investigators found a high-voltage PG&E transmission tower ignited the blaze.
“PG&E left abandoned equipment energized for thirteen years even though that equipment provided no benefit or convenience to the public,” the enforcement division report said.
A PG&E spokeswoman countered that the utility disputes several of the utility commission’s investigation findings, noting that the company believed the tower to be on “cold standby,” meaning it could be put back into use. Despite those disagreements regarding the alleged violations, in a written statement the utility disclosed that in hopes it “will assist in allowing all parties to move forward with the fire and permit us to focus on compensating victims and making our energy system safer.”