The California Public Utilities Commission placed the Pacific Gas and Electric Company into the first step of an enhanced oversight and enforcement process this week based on the utility provider’s failure to sufficiently prioritize clearing vegetation on its highest-risk power lines as part of its wildfire mitigation work in 2020.
As part of the process, PG&E is ordered to make corrective actions to ensure it improves its safety performance.
The actions were taken following the findings in an audit report issued by the CPUC’s Wildfire Safety Division, which found that PG&E failed to clear hazardous vegetation from power lines that posed the highest wildfire risks in 2020, based on the company’s own risk rankings. Instead, PG&E logged the majority of its compliance work on lower-risk power lines.
PG&E must now submit to the CPUC a corrective action plan and progress reports every 90 days. The corrective action plan is intended to create a path to help ensure that the company prioritizes its enhanced vegetation management based on wildfire risk throughout its electric system in 2021.
If the company demonstrates it is prioritizing high-risk lines, it could potentially be removed from the enhanced oversight process. If it doesn’t, the CPUC may pursue advancing the utility in the process — there are six steps that are triggered by specific findings or events.
The process was imposed by the CPUC as a condition of approving PG&E’s plan for existing bankruptcy in May 2020 and provides a clear roadmap for how the CPUC closely monitors the company’s performance in delivering safe, reliable, affordable, clean energy.