Report: PG&E Put off Repairs before Paradise Blaze

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An explosive new report in the Wall Street Journal says PG&E discovered major safety issues on the transmission line that sparked the Paradise fire, but put off for five years the needed repair work.

The report was based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and stated that in 2017 and 2018 the utility told the U.S. Forest Service that 49 aging steel towers needed replacement, and another 57 needed safety upgrades.  All of these were on the Caribu-Palermo line…built in 1921 and the very one that is blamed for the Paradise fire that essentially wiped out the town and killed 85 people.

After the fire, PG&E decided to stop using the line.

At the time of it’s inspection in 2017, the report says PG&E estimated that towers on the line were on average 68 years old, and some were over 100 years old.  According to the reporting, the utility told the Forest Service that it needed to come up with a plan to replace the towers and equipment, to reduce the chance of conductors falling to the ground and sparking fires.

In an earlier report, it was revealed that PG&E had decided to delay repair work for 5 years.  In January the utility filed for bankruptcy protection listing 30 billion dollars in liabilities related to wildfire claims.

The backlash was immediate and severe.  A federal judge in San Francisco overseeing the utility’s probation demanded that PG&E explain by the end of the month why it paid out $5 billion in dividends during the same period in which it knew that critical repair work was needed.




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