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PG&E Says It Knew Its Lines Could Spark Fires


PG&E Corp acknowledged in July 2019 that it has known for many years that its power lines could fail, sparking wildfires in the process. The acknowledgment came in a federal court filing which had been mandated by U.S. district judge William Alsup, who had ordered PG&E to respond to a Wall Street Journal article on a “paragraph-by-paragraph basis.”

The company acknowledged delaying multiple upgrades to the 98 year-old Caribou-Palermo line, which saw a line failure spark the Camp Fire in 2018. The Camp Fire was the most destructive and deadliest fire in California’s history. At least 85 people were killed and 18,804 structures were destroyed.

Judge Alsup had asked PG&E to explain why it had recently donated to political candidates and paid out billions of dollars worth of shareholder dividends rather than spending that money on replacing old transmission lines, repairing old transmission lines or trimming trees close to power lines. PG&E said it made political contributions to ensure the representation of shareholder concerns, and said it paid dividends so it could remain competitive with other utilities and raise capital from investors.


PG&E acknowledged that the Wall Street Journal article was correct in determining that it does not know the age of all of its wires and transmission towers. A 2017 PG&E estimate placed the average age of its transmission towers at 68 years old and the average life expectancy of its transmission towers at 65 years old, meaning the average PG&E transmission tower is past its life expectancy.

PG&E told federal regulators that they planned to overhaul the Caribou-Palermo line in 2013, yet the overhaul had yet to take place when the line sparked the Camp Fire in 2018. The overhaul was proposed again in 2014, 2015 and 2016 yet never implemented.

Nadrich & Cohen and its legal teams continue to actively pursue claims against PG&E on behalf of homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered injuries, damages and losses due to the Paradise Camp Fire and the North Bay Wine Country Fires.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury, loss, or damages due to the Camp Fire or North Bay Wine Country Fire, immediately contact our office for a free and confidential consultation by calling 1-800-718-4658.

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