SAN FRANCISCO – California’s fire management agency has confirmed that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was responsible for last summer’s Dixie Fire, which burned nearly 1 million acres and destroyed more than 1,300 structures, including more than 700 homes.
CalFire announced on Tuesday it had discovered that the second largest wildfire in the state’s history started when a tree fell on a PG&E-owned and -operated power line.
“PG&E and its reckless disregard for its own power line infrastructure puts thousands of families at risk of losing everything, even their lives,” said EWG President and longtime Bay Area resident Ken Cook.
“The only way to get PG&E out of the business of demolishing homes, destroying towns and killing Californians is for regulators and our elected leaders in Sacramento to adopt policies that force the company to embrace safe, distributed renewable sources of electricity and energy storage,” Cook said.
It’s not the first time PG&E’s haphazard power planning has caused devastating wildfires. But the company is trying to stick captive ratepayers with a $3.6 billion rate hike to pay for wildfire mitigation measures, on top of other efforts to raise energy bills.
In 2018, PG&E triggered the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise. PG&E would later plead guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter, with former Chief Executive Bill Johnson forced to repeat “Guilty, your honor” for each count before a Superior Court Judge.
“The era of all-powerful, monopoly electric utilities should be brought to a swift close in California and replaced with bold, sustainable, localized energy systems that both power and empower communities across the state,” said EWG’s Cook. “This transition cannot happen soon enough in the case of PG&E. The company’s decades of grid negligence is literally a matter of life and death.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action