San Francisco Chronicle: CPUC Judge Approves Settlement with PG&E With Slightly Improved Terms over Proposed Sweetheart Deal

February 27, 2020

An Administrative Law Judge has issued a decision approving a settlement between CPUC staff and PG&E for the dozens of violations of law that PG&E committed that caused 19 fires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.  This settlement includes illegal activity that resulted in the highly deadly and destructive Wine Country Fires and the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in California history.  The decision modifies the sweetheart deal for PG&E that CPUC staff had originally agreed to that would have assessed $0 fine, let PG&E benefit from tax deductions for the supposed “penalties,” and otherwise let PG&E off with a mere slap on the wrist. 

Wild Tree played a key role in arguing against the terms of the original proposed settlement agreement especially the no fine fine and we are glad to see that a $200 million fine had been included in the amended deal approved by the ALJ.   Unfortunately, Wild Tree and partner PG&E customer Thomas Del Monte,  have not yet been successful in compelling the CPUC to truly investigate the cause of the Tubbs Fire and to investigate the possibility that PG&E has known since 1987 that the piece of equipment that failed outside of Paradise, California igniting the Camp Fire (C-hook) risks failure throughout its territory.   The ALJ’s decision does not change the terms of the settlement that effectively bar any further CPUC action against PG&E for such malfeasance. 

“April Rose Maurath Sommer, the executive and legal director of the Wild Tree Foundation, a group involved in the regulatory proceedings, told The Chronicle in an email that she planned to appeal the decision, calling it “insufficient” to address PG&E’s wildfire-related misdeeds.”  – San Francisco Chronicle,  PG&E penalty from 2017, 2018 fires could grow 27%  read more