CPUC: PG&E neglected maintenance on tower that started Camp Fire

A new report released by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) indicates that PG&E failed to properly inspect and/or maintain the transmission tower that started the deadly Camp Fire in 2018.

Posted: Dec 3, 2019 3:05 PM
Updated: Dec 3, 2019 3:11 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - A new report released by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) indicates that PG&E failed to properly inspect and/or maintain the transmission tower that started the deadly Camp Fire in 2018.

In the report, the CPUC claims PG&E did not take notice to the worsening condition of said tower. The report indicates that there was a failure to replace or reinforce the C-hook on the tower.

PG&E failed to follow its procedures by failing to document the factors and reasons that led to the delay in the repair work on the incident tower, according to the CPUC.

PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno responding to the report saying, “PG&E accepts SED’s conclusion that PG&E electrical transmission lines near Pulga were a cause of the Camp Fire, reaffirming CAL FIRE’s earlier determination."

Moreno added, "Without question, the loss of life, homes, and businesses is heartbreaking. The tragedy in Butte County on November 8, 2018, will never be forgotten. We remain deeply sorry about the role our equipment had in this tragedy, and we apologize to all those impacted by the devastating Camp Fire."

PG&E said their most important responsibility must always be public and employee safety. They said they remain focused on helping communities that were affected to recover and rebuild, resolving wildfire victims’ claims fairly and expeditiously, and further reducing wildfire risks.

Moreno said PG&E conducted accelerated safety inspections of electric infrastructure in areas of higher wildfire risk.

"We implemented these inspections following the 2017 and 2018 wildfires as additional precautionary measures intended to further reduce wildfire risks and keeping our customers and communities safe, given the growing wildfire threat across the state," Moreno said. "These enhanced inspections are one part of our Community Wildfire Safety Program and are in addition to our routine inspections and maintenance programs."

Since January 2019, PG&E said they inspected almost 730,000 transmission, distribution and substation structures, and over 25 million electrical components in those areas.

"We climbed them, we used drones and we performed 18 months of inspections in only 4 months," Moreno said. "Throughout the inspection process, we have addressed and repaired conditions that pose an immediate safety risk, while completing other high-priority repairs on an accelerated basis. Repairs for other conditions will be completed as part of our routine work execution plan.”

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