Today, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and district attorneys representing six Northern California counties announced settlements resolving the 2019 Kincade Fire and 2021 Dixie Fire.
As a result of these agreements, no criminal charges will be filed in the Dixie Fire, and the criminal complaint regarding the Kincade Fire will be dismissed.
PG&E has also entered into long-term agreements with Lassen, Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Sonoma and Tehama counties to strengthen wildfire safety and response programs and to work with local organizations affected by the fires to help rebuild impacted communities.
These commitments include assistance for local nonprofits, support for community colleges to expand their wildfire safety training and a direct claims program for victims of the Dixie Fire who lost their homes.
“We are committed to doing our part, and we look forward to a long partnership with these communities to make it right and make it safe,” said Patti Poppe, chief executive officer of PG&E Corporation. “We respect the leadership of the local DAs, welcome the new level of transparency and accountability afforded by these agreements, and look forward to working together for the benefit of the communities we collectively serve.”
According to kctleagal.com, “The official cause of the Dixie Fire is currently under investigation, but there is strong evidence that PG&E was involved. The Dixie Fire started July 13, 2021, which was also the same day that a PG&E employee was dispatched to investigate a report of a power outage at Cresta Dam off Highway 70. Per a report filed with the state, the employee found a tree leaning into a conductor with blown fuses — and a fire at the base of the tree. PG&E stated that its power equipment may have been responsible for starting not only the Dixie Fire but also the Fly Fire, a small fire that later merged with the Dixie Fire.
PG&E also committed to a five-year monitorship of its vegetation management and system inspection work in the six counties. The monitor will be independent of PG&E and will regularly report to the district attorneys on the company’s progress. This role will be filled by Filsinger Energy Partners, which also serves as the Independent Safety Monitor for the California Public Utilities Commission. PG&E will continue to provide the resources needed to enable the monitor to meet its commitments to the CPUC, as well as additional resources needed to focus on PG&E’s critical wildfire safety work in these six counties.
“Making this agreement required a level of trust and partnership in meeting Plumas County’s needs,” said Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister. “PG&E’s new leadership team has demonstrated they are committed to change and will continue to work towards earning our trust. I appreciate this commitment and, to paraphrase the 40th President of the United States, look forward to verifying these efforts as provided by today’s agreement,”
Below are highlights of the safety commitments PG&E is making
Local safety workforce: Adding 80-100 new PG&E jobs based in Sonoma County, as well as 80-100 more positions collectively across Lassen, Butte, Plumas, Shasta and Tehama counties. These new positions will increase PG&E’s local expertise and presence focused on completing critical safety work in these communities.
Local inspection and work commitments: Executing specific safety work and inspections in the six counties as detailed in PG&E’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan including commitments to carry out vegetation management and equipment inspections, which will be reviewed and verified by the independent monitor.
Local Community College Partnerships
Fire Technology Training Program: Committing to work collaboratively with Santa Rosa Junior College on efforts to expand and enhance the college’s Fire Technology Program of the Public Safety Training Center, including providing funding and sharing PG&E wildfire safety know-how and learnings. The company also will provide funding to campuses in the six counties which, at the discretion of the colleges, can be used for site acquisition and development, equipment purchases, and developing and implementing fire technology program curriculum.
Vegetation Management Training Program: Providing funding and assisting in the creation of new utility vegetation management training programs at SRJC and several campuses across the North Valley. These programs will be modeled after coursework that debuted at Butte College in 2020.
Direct payment program to accelerate community recovery
PG&E will launch a new Direct Payments for Community Recovery program with an online tool where individuals whose homes were destroyed by the Dixie Fire can submit claims for expedited review, approval and payment.
PG&E will verify the claims and make offers based on an objective, pre-determined calculation. Claimants who accept the offers will receive payment, typically within 30 days of accepting an offer and within 75 days of first submitting a complete claim. PG&E has also agreed to provide in-person and telephone customer support centers to navigate this new program.
Payments to local non-profit organizations
As part of PG&E’s commitment to work with local organizations and communities, most of the money that PG&E will pay as part of these settlements – over $35 million – will go to local non-profit organizations, including Fire Safe Councils, volunteer fire departments, local schools and community groups such as Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce and organizations serving veterans and the homeless.
In addition to the above commitments, PG&E will pay a $7.5 million civil penalty to Sonoma County related to the Kincade Fire and a $1 million civil penalty to each of the five North Valley counties related to the Dixie Fire. The financial commitments within the two stipulated agreements total $55 million over five years, and PG&E will not seek recovery of these costs from customers.
PG&E’s wildfire safety commitments across its service area are outlined in its 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan, which PG&E submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission on February 25, 2022. More information about this plan, and PG&E’s work to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, is available at pge.com/en_US/safety/emergency-preparedness/natural-disaster/wildfires/wildfire-mitigation-plan.page?WT.mc_id=Vanity_wildfiremitigationplan.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation, is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.