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  • PG&E has agreed to pay a maximum fine of $3.5 million for its crimes

    PG&E has agreed to pay a maximum fine of $3.5 million for its crimes

Published 16 June 2020
Opinion

It´s the first time that PG&E or any major utility has been charged with homicide as the result of a reckless fire.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Tuesday recognized in a court hearing the manslaughter of 84 people during the wildfire that reduced to ashes the Northern California town of Paradise in November 2018.

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Bill Jhonson, the chief executive of PG&E said to court and family victims watching online that he was there on behalf of the 23,000 men and women of PG&E to take responsibility for the fire that killed those people. The utility company offers services to 16 million Northern Californians who rely on PG&E for power.

On November 8, 2018, a faulty electric transmission ignited a fire that would become one of the most destructive of the year in the U.S. The utility company offers service to 16 million Northern Californians who rely on PG&E for power.

Back then, PG&E had repeatedly failed to maintain a transmission line that broke from a nearly-100-year-old tower even though it cut through a forested and mountainous area known to experience strong winds. The company negligence ultimately contributed to the spreading of the fire that would take two weeks to tackle.

The Camp Fire devastated lives and wreaked billions of dollars in property damage, and left PG&E struggling to survive. As the chief executive read plead guilty for each of the 84 killed, it is unprecedented that a company acknowledges the killing of people, the Butte County District Attorney Michael L. Ramsey said that no individuals will be sent to prison.

"This is the first time that PG&E or any major utility has been charged with homicide as the result of a reckless fire. It killed a town," Ramsey said, referring to Paradise, which was annihilated by the blaze.

PG&E has agreed to pay a maximum fine of $3.5 million for its crimes in addition to $500,000 for the cost of the investigation, a culmination of a two-year ordeal.

Around 20 family victims will testify on Wednesday about the losses of their loved ones, before the sentencing that is expected Thursday or Friday.   

 
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