Bankruptcy Judge Approves PG&E $105 Million Assistance Fund for Wildfire Victims

PG&E Corp. may set up a $105 million housing fund for victims of 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California, which set records for devastation and were blamed on the utility’s equipment, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy of the investor-owned power producer ruled on Wednesday.

Creditors, which include wildfire victims, are fighting for funds as PG&E navigates bankruptcy stemming from the blazes and as the state plans for increasingly long and dangerous fire seasons its officials attribute to climate change.

Paradise, Calif., 6 Months After California’s Worst Wildfire

(TNS) — Phil and Michelle John know they have it better than most.

Their house was among the 11 percent in Paradise that survived the Camp fire, and they moved home in early April. Their street is largely intact, and many of their neighbors have returned. Even their cat is recovering, having miraculously turned up, half starved and reeking of smoke, a couple of weeks after the fire.

On the other hand: They’ve lost much of their social circle. Their Friday night routine — burgers with friends at Barney’s or some other beloved restaurant — has ended. John, their friend from Rotary, has moved to the Bay Area. Sandy, their Realtor friend, relocated to Lake Tahoe. Their golfing buddies have scattered down the hill, to Chico. While some of the old gang will likely return, hardly a day goes by when they don’t learn of someone listing their house for sale.

Investigators Blame PG&E Lines for Deadliest Wildfire in California History

State fire investigators have determined that transmission lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co caused the deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record in California, a blaze that killed 85 people last year, officials said on Wednesday.

The wind-driven blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire, erupted in the drought-parched Sierra foothills 175 miles north of San Francisco in November 2018 and raced with little warning through the town of Paradise, incinerating much of that community.

California May Go Dark This Summer; Most Aren’t Ready

A plan by California’s biggest utility to cut power on high-wind days during the onrushing wildfire season could plunge millions of residents into darkness. And the vast majority isn’t ready for it.

The plan by PG&E Corp. comes after the bankrupt utility said a transmission line that snapped in windy weather probably started last year’s Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history. While the plan may end one problem, it creates another as Californians seek ways to deal with what some fear could be days and days of blackouts.

$10B Fund for California Fire Costs May Dry Up by 2030

California has for months been weighing the idea of a fund that utilities could dip into when facing crippling costs tied to wildfires. On Wednesday, state lawmakers got a feel for how big that fund would have to be.

During a legislative hearing, an energy advisory firm commissioned by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office presented a range of options for creating a pool of anywhere from $10 billion to $40 billion. The analysis, outlined by Nathan Pollak of Filsinger Energy Partners, showed that a $10 billion fund had a 98% chance of being depleted by 2030 while a $40 billion fund would have a 7% chance.

Judge Tells PG&E’s Board to Tour Wildfire-Ravaged California Town

A federal judge has ordered board members of Pacific Gas & Electric to tour the Northern California town of Paradise, which was leveled by a wildfire that may have been caused by the utility’s equipment.

The judge ordered the tour as part of the utility’s punishment for violating its felony probation terms, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

Busy Wildfire Season Along West Coast: Forecast

Most of the country can expect a normal wildfire season but residents along the West Coast of the United States should be ready for another busy season, the National Interagency Fire Center said this week.

California experienced its deadliest and largest wildfires in the past two years, including a fire in the northern part of the state last year that destroyed the town of Paradise, killing more than 80 people. It was the nation’s worst death toll from a wildfire in a century.

Report Urges Wildfire Tax, Agency for Marin County, Calif.

(TNS) — A new report by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury recommends the creation of a joint powers authority to coordinate wildfire preparedness and a quarter-cent sales tax to help fund preparedness efforts.

“Considering Marin’s current state of preparedness, citizens should not assume that first responders will be able to save them from the horrors of a wildfire like those experienced during Butte County’s Camp Fire,” the report states, referring to the fire in November that killed an estimated 85 people, destroying the town of Paradise and ravaging communities around it.

L.A. County Sues Southern California Edison for Wildfire Damage

Los Angeles County sued Southern California Edison and parent company Edison International on Thursday to recover more than $100 million in costs and damages from a wind-driven wildfire that may have been sparked by one of the utility’s wires.

“This legal action is an important and essential step toward accountability and recovery,” county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.

PG&E Behind on Tree Work in California a Month from Wildfire Season

California is just one month away from the official start of wildfire season and bankrupt utility giant PG&E Corp. is running behind on inspections, repairs and tree-trimming that was ordered up to reduce the risk of another devastating blaze.

PG&E, due to circumstances beyond its control, such as a rainy winter and permitting requirements, has been finding it difficult carry out the fire-prevention measures, the San Francisco-based company said in a court filing late Thursday. As a result, it’s pushing back completion dates for fire-prevention work, PG&E told a federal judge who is supervising its criminal probation for previous safety lapses related to its natural gas pipeline system.

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