OPINION: Mike Florio, San Francisco Chronicle
The 2017 wildfire season left behind immense and tragic harm throughout California. Latest estimates show insurance claims totaling $12 billion statewide, leaving families and business reeling to recover. Some argue that financial fallout for the disaster belongs wholly to electric utilities, and it appears likely some of it will. Unfortunately, it is not the case that even large companies like PG&E — or any other utility — could foot the bill for all of the wildfire-related costs without causing serious harm to its customers and the rest of the state.
Based on the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention’s findings from its investigation into some of last year’s fires, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. improperly maintained trees that contacted power lines and ignited some fires. Should those findings be upheld, PG&E must take responsibility for its role in the disaster.