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PCG PR A - Pacific Gas And Electric Co News Story

$30 0.3  1.1%

Sector
Utilities
Size
Large Cap
Market Cap £5.65bn
Enterprise Value £31.78bn
Revenue £13.60bn
Position in Universe th / 6846

California toughens PG&E oversight over wildfire safety work

Thu 15th April, 2021 11:29pm
April 15 (Reuters) - California officials on Thursday voted
to toughen oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric, saying the
utility had largely failed to perform required tree-trimming
work near power lines in areas with the highest risk of
wildfires.
    The unanimous vote by the California Public Utilities
Commission comes as the fire-prone state has stepped up scrutiny
of utility efforts to mitigate wildfire risk. Climate change is
fueling increasingly frequent and intense blazes in the state
that are often ignited by power infrastructure.
    PG&E emerged from bankruptcy less than a year ago. It had
sought protection from creditors after major wildfires sparked
by its equipment in 2017 and 2018 drove the utility's potential
liabilities into the tens of billions of dollars.
    PG&E completed about 1,800 miles (2,897 km) of tree-trimming
in 2020, but focused that work on the least risky circuits in
its system, according to a Commission document. (Click here) 
    "PG&E’s own reports show that a significant portion of the
total miles for the 20 highest risk circuits remains unworked,"
according to the report.
    The utility is required to prioritize work based on risk
assessments it submits to regulators, the filing said.
    "These were red flags," CPUC Executive Director Rachel
Peterson said during a presentation to the five-member panel at
its online meeting.
    As part of PG&E's exit from bankruptcy, the PUC established
a six-step oversight process to hold the utility accountable if
it was deemed to be falling short on safety measures. The PUC
first said late last year that it was investigating whether to
initiate that process.
    On Thursday, the commission placed the utility into the
first phase of that enhanced oversight, requiring PG&E to submit
a plan to correct its safety efforts within 20 days.
    In a statement, PG&E said it took the PUC's action seriously
and had already implemented "significant improvements" to its
vegetation management program, such as improved risk modeling
and stiffer oversight of work locations.
    San Francisco-based PG&E serves about 16 million people in
northern and central California.

 (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Stephen Coates)
 ((nichola.groom@thomsonreuters.com;))
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