PG&E facing court-ordered wildfire prevention plan

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in January to allow themselves to reorganize their debts and, stop creditors from coming after them for a while, though that doesn’t stop the criminal end of their case.

A federal judge said today they’ve violated their probation and he’s now ordering that to stop.

“I was pleased that the judge recognized that beyond any doubt, PG&E is culpable and it was responsible for the fires in 2017 in particular, and likely 2018,” said attorney Mike Danko.

Danko represents more than 2,000 clients who lost homes or have been seriously affected by fires caused by PG&E.

Namely, the 2018 Camp Fire — the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. He was in federal court tuesday in San Francisco, where U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup made adjustments to the terms of PG&E’s probation, stemming from the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion in 2010.

“And, one of the reasons of course, if a convicted felon, who is on probation violates that probation, that entitles the judge to step in and order that felon to take corrective action,” Danko said.

In this case, he modified the terms of PG&E’s probation in a few ways. First, he is preventing the company from reissuing dividends to shareholders.

“He then said, I’m going to order you PG&E to comply with all the various California regulations concerning trimming back trees away from your lines. PG&E said, you know, judge, look there’s just too many trees out there that are too close to the wires, we can’t do that,” Danko said.

The judge said PG&E’s been negligent and has failed to trim trees for so long and that the utility company now has to fix that, according to Danko.

Third, the judge is telling PG&E it has to develop a robust wildfire mitigation plan and, once that’s set in place and approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, he’ll hold them to every word of it.

“I kind of think though that he could have been stronger in his rulings and what he ordered PG&E to do,” said Danko. “After all, all he ordered PG&E to do is to comply with the law. That’s something which you and I have to do, and we’re not convicted felons.”

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