SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. is approaching more and more responsibility for the US's deadliest forest fire for a century, declaring Thursday that it is "likely" that one of its transmission lines has caused the US last year 's fire that killed 86 people and destroyed most of the city of Paradise.
The troubled utility company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, said it was receiving a $ 10.5 billion charge for fire-related claims in its offices. fourth quarter results. The fire destroyed 14,000 homes in and around Paradise, a town of 27,000 inhabitants located at the foot of Sierra Nevada.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Firefighters settled near a tower on the Caribou-Palermo transport line of PG & E.
"Based on information currently known to the Company and communicated to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other agencies, the Company believes that it is likely that its equipment will be considered a point of departure. Ignition of the 2018 campfire, "PG & E said in a press release.
PG & E has already acknowledged that the Caribou-Palermo transmission line lost energy just before the fire and was subsequently damaged. He also included the fire among the more than $ 30 billion in potential forest fire-related debts he faced when he announced his intention to file for bankruptcy in January. But he had not gone as far as Thursday connecting the line to the fire.
"We are aware that more effort is required to adapt to the growing threat of wildfires and extreme weather conditions to protect our customers and our communities," said John Simon. , PG & E Acting General Manager. "We are taking action now on the important safety and maintenance measures identified in our accelerated and enhanced safety inspections and will continue to keep our regulators, customers and investors informed about our efforts."
John Geesman, energy consultant and former member of the California Energy Commission, said the announcement of PG & E Thursday was significant and that it would strengthen the company's oversight by lawmakers and others.
"This corroborates many of the worst things people have believed," he said.
The Wall Street Journal, citing federal archives, reported Wednesday that PG & E since 2013 has repeatedly delayed security work on the Caribou-Palermo line, including the replacement of towers and cables. In a statement, PG & E stated that the article "misrepresents the regulatory compliance work on electricity transmission and omits some key aspects of the work we are currently doing to improve Security".
PG & E has also recorded a new $ 1 billion charge related to the 2017 wildfires in northern California.
Citing extraordinary challenges related to forest fires, PG & E management concluded that the circumstances "cast significant doubt on the ability of PG & E Corporation and the utility to continue operations".
PG & E also said that there was a power outage and cables dropped to another place, Big Bend, the morning of the fire that destroyed Paradise. Fire officials identified the second site as another potential ignition point. could have started the fire.
The Caribou-Palermo transmission line has been out of service since mid-December and inspections have identified equipment requiring repairs or replacement, the company said.
Bussewitz reported from New York.