SAN FRANCISCO —
A federal judge approved a change Wednesday to the criminal sentence of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), allowing the company to avoid having to complete its remaining 2,500 hours of community service by paying $3 million toward a fire safety project instead.
The modification was requested by the City of San Bruno, where a gas pipeline blew up an entire neighborhood in 2010 and killed eight people.
A jury convicted PG&E of six federal felonies in 2016, including willfully ignoring safety laws and obstructing the federal investigation into the disaster.
PG&E was sentenced to five years probation in 2017 and punished with a $3 million fine, 10,000 hours of community service, and a federal court monitor to observe the company’s practices.
Federal district court Judge William Alsup, who now oversees the probation, approved the change in an order Nov. 22.
Alsup has pushed the company to improve safety on its power lines since the 2018 Camp Fire burned the town of Paradise, killing 85 people.
PG&E admits that its high-tension power line started the fire and decided to shut the line down after finding more safety hazards on it after the fire.
Alsup rejected an earlier version of the plan, saying that he did not want PG&E’s money to go to consultants.
The new terms of PG&E’s probation call for PG&E to pay $3 million into a fund controlled by the court.
According to the order, San Bruno can withdraw the money only with court approval to pay for “hard costs” of the fire safety project in the city’s Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood.
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- PG&E responds to judge’s question about political spending, based on ABC10 investigation
- PG&E to judge: ‘Can’t monitor every tree’ in order to prevent wildfires
- District Attorney says PG&E equipment started Camp Fire, not yet sure if it was a crime
- PG&E finds 'unacceptable' number of safety problems; shuts down power line that started Camp Fire
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The head of PG&E told angry California lawmakers Monday that the nation’s largest electric utility wasn’t fully prepared for the effects of its power outages.