CAL FIRE Concludes that PG&E Equipment Did Not Cause 2017 Tubbs Wildfire
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today issued the following
statement in response to the release of information by the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) regarding the
October 2017 Tubbs wildfire:
Without question, the loss of life, homes and businesses during these
devastating wildfires is heartbreaking, and we remain focused on helping
affected communities recover and rebuild. The safety of our customers
and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, and
we are committed to assessing our infrastructure to further enhance
safety and help protect all of the customers we serve from the
ever-increasing threat of wildfires.
CAL FIRE has completed its investigation of the 2017 Tubbs Fire and
concluded that PG&E facilities did not cause the fire.
The devastating and unprecedented wildfires of 2017 and 2018 have had a
profound impact on our customers, employees and communities. Regardless
of today’s announcement, PG&E still faces extensive litigation,
significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial
situation, which was further impaired by the recent credit agency
downgrades to below investment grade. Resolving the legal liabilities
and financial challenges stemming from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires will
be enormously complex and will require us to address multiple
stakeholder interests, including thousands of wildfire victims and
others who have already made claims and likely thousands of others we
expect to make claims.
Given the continued and growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires,
and as an additional precautionary measure, PG&E is enhancing and
expanding its Community Wildfire Safety Program to further reduce
wildfire risks and help keep its customers and the communities it serves
safe. PG&E’s ongoing and expanded safety actions include:
Real-Time Monitoring and Intelligence
Coordinating prevention and response efforts by monitoring wildfire
risk in real-time from its Wildfire Safety Operations Center.
Expanding its network of weather stations to enhance weather
forecasting and modeling. By 2022, PG&E will add approximately 1,300
new weather stations in high fire-risk areas.
Installing nearly 600 new high-definition cameras in high fire-threat
areas, increasing coverage across these areas to more than 90 percent.
New and Enhanced Safety Measures
Further enhancing vegetation management efforts with an increased
focus on vegetation that poses a higher potential for wildfire risk,
such as overhanging branches and limbs directly above and around power
lines, and tree species at an increased risk of falling into power
lines, as well as dead and dying trees.
Conducting accelerated safety inspections of electric infrastructure
in high fire-threat areas, in addition to routine inspections and
maintenance. This includes ground or climbing inspections, as well as
aerial imagery captured by drones and in some cases, helicopter, to
further complement and enhance visual inspections.
Taking action right away to address any immediate risk to public
safety found during accelerated inspections.
Disabling of automatic reclosing of circuit breakers and reclosers in
high fire-risk areas during wildfire season.
Proactively turning off electric power for safety, only as a last
resort, when extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted, and
helping customers prepare by providing early warning notification when
and where possible.
System Hardening and Resiliency
Installing stronger and more resilient poles and covered power lines
across 7,100 miles of highest fire-risk areas over the course of the
next 10 years.
Replacing equipment to further reduce risk to its system and tailoring
upgrades based on terrain and weather conditions using more granular
analysis of fire-prone regions.
Piloting new resilience zones to provide electricity to central
community resources serving local customers during a Public Safety
Power Shutoff event.
Wildfire Risk is Growing
California faces an ever-increasing threat from catastrophic wildfires,
extreme weather and higher temperatures. Recent state and federal
climate assessments warn the threat is only growing. California’s Fourth
Climate Change Assessment found the average area burned statewide would
increase 77 percent if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The
Assessment also said prolonged drought and higher temperatures will
triple the frequency of wildfires.
Multiple factors contribute to wildfire risk across PG&E’s service area.
These include vast tree mortality following a historic five-year
drought. Fire season is now extended due to prolonged periods of high
temperatures, extreme dryness, tinder-dry grass and record-high winds
increasing the number of wildfires and making them more dangerous. More
than half of PG&E’s service area is now considered to be in extreme or
high fire-risk areas as designated by the CPUC’s Fire-Threat Map.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E
Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas
and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San
Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of
the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and
Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/