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PG&E Plans to Take ‘Leading Role’ to Implement Wildfire Changes

A federal district judge in San Francisco said he remained critical of the role of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) and its response to the horrific wildfires that swept California in the past two years.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the District of Northern California in a filing earlier this month, as part of his role in overseeing the utility's five-year probation related to the fatal 2010 San Bruno gas transmission pipeline tragedy, questioned the effectiveness of PG&E's ongoing efforts to clear vegetation in power line corridors.

Alsup is questioning parts of PG&E's wildfire mitigation plans recently submitted to state regulators. He asked the utility if it were proposing to take 10 years to clear the problematic vegetation.

A PG&E spokesperson James Noonan said the utility agrees with the judge's concerns and said the utility intends to play a "leading role in implementing change that will help further address wildfire risk and it has taken  a number of important and meaningful actions to do so."

PG&E intends to work with the court "with a sense of urgency to address the risk of wildfires throughout Northern and Central California” and “continues to work with regulators, lawmakers and community partners to develop comprehensive, long-term safety solutions," Noonan said.

In its wildfire mitigation plan submitted earlier this month, PG&E outlined a $2 billion effort for 2019 to improve preventive steps. Included in those plans are expanded tree trimming and more potential proactive blackouts to shut down power lines in high-risk areas when weather conditions dictate that fire risks are high.

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