Saturday, December 2, 2023

PG&E Makes First Annual Payment to Resolve Criminal and Civil Charges for Causing 2019’s Kincade Fire

The following is a press release issued by the Sonoma County District Attorney:

The Kincaid Fire as seen from a Alert Wildfire camera in 2019

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”) has made the first of five annual payments to several local nonprofit organizations serving members of the community impacted by wildfires. The payments were mandated by the stipulated judgment that resolved criminal and civil charges against PG&E related to causing the 2019 Kincade Fire. The nonprofit recipients of the funds were:

  1. Fire Safe Sonoma, which is charged with implementation of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) to mitigate threat of wildfires through education, prevention, and outreach, including funding of neighborhood wildfire prevention and preparedness programs, received the first of five $200,000 annual payments.
  2. Conservation Corps North Bay, which provides wraparound services to young adults that include career-coaching and job-training in industries such as vegetation management, received the first of five $200,000 annual payments.
  3. Nuestra Communidad, a nonprofit focused on disaster preparedness for underserved communities, including elderly and monolingual Spanish speakers, received the first of five $100,000 annual payments.
  4. Council on Aging, which provides food security to thousands of seniors through its Meals on Wheels program and assists with notification of emergencies as well as updates and assistance, received the first of five $100,000 annual payments.
  5. Interfaith Shelter Network, which provides emergency basic needs assistance including housing for under and uninsured, received the first of five $100,000 annual payments.
  6. Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma-Marin, which runs programs that provide life-skills and workforce development for youth in the Roseland area, received the first of five $100,000 annual payments.
  7. Jameson Humane, an organization that supports large and small animal rescue preparation, response, and reunification during wildfires, received the first of five $100,000 annual payments to support Sonoma County efforts.
  8. Each of the following local health clinics that were impacted by the Kincade Fire from the five districts in Sonoma County received the first of five $60,000 annual payments in recognition of the heightened health risks associated with wildfires due to dangerous levels of emitted air contaminants:
    • Petaluma Health Center
    • Jewish Community Free Clinic
    • Sonoma Valley Community Health Center
    • West County Health Centers
    • Alexander Valley Health Care

District Attorney Ravitch said, “The stipulated settlement, in this case, represented the best outcome for the people of this county. It provides a significant financial punishment, coupled with oversight. In addition, a large portion of the funds are going to local nonprofits providing services to those in our community affected by wildfires. The judgment also prohibits PG&E from passing the costs on to consumers through rate increases.”

The judgment, which was approved by the Honorable Patrick Broderick on April 8, 2022, also ordered PG&E to implement numerous wildfire safety measures in Sonoma County. PG&E’s compliance with these safety measures is being reviewed and monitored by a team of independent experts in the energy field for the next five years. The judgment further ordered PG&E to hire at least 80 new wildfire safety related positions in Sonoma County. Finally, PG&E was ordered to pay a total of $20,250,000. In addition to the payments to local nonprofits discussed above, PG&E paid the following:

  • The first of five annual payments totaling $5,000,000 to Santa Rosa Junior College to expand and enhance the school’s Fire Technology Program at the Public Safety Training Center, and $500,000 to create a Vegetation Management program to train students for future careers related to wildfire resilience.
  • The first of five annual payments totaling $7,500,000 in civil penalties as punishment and deterrence for recklessly and negligently causing the Kincade Fire.
  • $750,000 to reimburse the District Attorney’s Office for the costs of investigating and prosecuting the matter was paid in June.

All payments mandated by this Judgment will not be charged to PG&E customers nor may they be recovered in rate increases.

Kincade Fire

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On October 23, 2019, at approximately 9:20 p.m., the Kincade Fire ignited under a PG&E transmission tower located in the Geysers, a geothermal field in northern Sonoma County. The fire burned for 15 days, destroying more than 77,000 acres and hundreds of homes and structures. The fire also prompted the largest evacuation in Sonoma County history of almost 200,000 residents. At least six firefighters were seriously injured fighting the fire. Additionally, the fire emitted harmful smoke, injuring at least five identified victims, and subjecting many more to increased risk of serious health problems.

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  1. PG&E makes 1st payment?!😂😂. …we, the PG&E consumers, made the 1st payment! Bills have skyrocketed over the last few years. I only have electric, no gas, house uses propane, & my bill is insane! Just lights, washer & dryer, TV, occasionally the oven (i use bbq) the usual shit around the house. & the bill is around 150 a month during winter. No electric heating or summertime AC going. Also, im single with no kids. I remember my bill being well below 100 nott too long ago. We’re paying for all these lawsuits! They destroyed communities & lives & then make us pay for it….good looking out, state & federal government👎

  2. Great! The consumer will pick up the tab. So the ( non profits). Can spend it on administrative fees. Then piss off the rest on inefficient and illogical projects. With no oversight Way to go libs!!!

  3. As someone who’s house burned because of pg and e, I am always amazed people make comments about the consumer having to pay for their crimes. It often feels like we (fire victims or survivors) are being blamed.
    Do you really think Pg and E wouldn’t have raised their rates anyways, even without fires? They owe us. They owe our kids for taking their childhood’s away. Let pg and e pay, and keep fighting against the companies evils, but don’t blame the people who’s lives became entwined in pg and e’s negligence

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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