Pacific Gas & Electric Will Pay $55 Million To Avoid Criminal Prosecution For Wildfires Sparked By Old Power Lines

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Bryan Babb Contributor
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Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced Monday they would pay $55 million in order to avoid criminal charges for two wildfires sparked by their aging power lines.

PG&E, the largest utility in the country, reached a settlement with six counties in Northern California that will resolve the 2019 Kincade Fire and 2021 Dixie Fire and keep the utility from criminal charges, according to a press release. The settlement will see PG&E pay $55 million while undergoing monitorship of its “vegetation management and system inspection work” over the next five years, according to the release.

PG&E stated that of the $55 million, $35 million will go to non-profit organizations in the area, including volunteer fire departments, local schools and Fire Safe Councils. Additionally, $7.5 million will be paid to Sonoma County as a civil penalty for the Kincade Fire $1 million will go to the five other counties as a civil penalty for the Dixie Fire. The five counties include Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta, and Tehama. (RELATED: Authorities Reveal Cause Of Second-Largest Wildfire In California History)

The utility did not confess to any wrongdoing in the release, though it is still facing criminal charges for a fire that killed four people in Shasta County, according to the Associated Press. The payments from the company are intended to make up for losses suffered by communities impacted by the fires faster than those damaged by fires caused by PG&E equipment in 2017 and 2018, the outlet reported.

“Making this agreement required a level of trust and partnership in meeting Plumas County’s needs,” Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister said, according to the release. “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.”