Nov 3, 2021 - Energy & Environment

PG&E agrees to pay $125 million for 2019 Kincade Fire

Firefighters set a back fire along a hillside near PG&E power lines during firefighting operations to battle the Kincade Fire in Healdsburg, California on October 26, 2019.
Firefighters set a back fire along a hillside near PG&E power lines during firefighting operations to battle the Kincade Fire in Healdsburg, Calif., on Oct. 26, 2019. Photo: Philip Pachec/AFP via Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electric reached a $125 million settlement with California's energy regulator Tuesday over the 2019 Kincade Fire, which burned more than 77,000 acres, destroyed hundreds of homes and injured four people in Sonoma County.

The big picture: The California Public Utilities Commission said in a statement the proposed settlement would address "multiple violations" that its safety and enforcement division found — notably a worn power line that investigators said "failed" and broke off a transmission tower during the blaze.

Of note: PG&E is facing 33 criminal charges over the October 2019 wildfire, which Cal Fire also concluded was caused by a jumper cable on a PG&E transmission tower that broke amid high winds.

  • The utility has acknowledged that its transmission line caused the fire, but the company rejects that a crime was committed.

Details: "Under the proposed settlement, PG&E shareholders would pay a $40 million penalty to California's General Fund and incur an $85 million permanent disallowance for cost recovery for the permanent removal of abandoned transmission facilities within its service territory, for a total of $125 million," per the California Public Utilities Commission statement.

What they're saying: PG&E said in a statement to Bloomberg that it didn't accept allegations it had committed safety violations, but the settlement "will assist in allowing all parties to move forward from the fire."

What's next: The California Public Utilities Commission was due to vote on whether to approve the settlement on Dec. 2, according to its statement.

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