Angry protest held over PG&E wildfire plans

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Protestors disrupted the California Public Utilities Commission meeting Thursday over plans to allow PG&E to pass on the cost of the wildfires to consumers.

Wednesday night, a federal court judge proposed some tough new rules to prevent any more wildfires caused by PG&E. And today, the emotion spilled out at a public hearing.

RELATED: Judge proposes ordering PG&E to shut off power for wildfires

Protestors used public comment at Thursday's PUC hearing to read the names of those who died in last year's Camp Fire.

And when commissioners took up a measure that places a cap on how much PG&E could pay out in wildfire lawsuits, before passing on additional costs to consumers the protestors shouted them down with, "hey hey, ho ho, PG&E has got to go."

San Francisco resident Alexander Post told the commission, "The time has come for no more bailouts and slaps on the wrist, make this a true public utility accountable to us, the people."

CPUS President Michael Picker tried to interrupt, "Thank you, sir."

Post answered, "No, you're going to listen and have me finish this."

Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network says PG&E wants consumers to pay for the utility's negligence.

"Any wildfire that's caused by negligence of PG&E should never be paid by customers, should always be paid by shareholders," Toney told the I-Team.

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This comes one day after US District Court Judge William Alsup proposed new orders to prevent any more wildfires tied to P-G-E equipment, saying the utility should:

  • "Re-inspect all of its electrical grid and remove or trim all trees that could fall onto power lines" and fix weakened or damaged equipment

  • "Document the foregoing inspections and the work done and shall rate each segment's safety"

  • "During the 2019 Wildfire Season (and thereafter), PG&E may supply electricity only through those parts of its electrical grid it has determined to be safe under the wind conditions then prevailing."

  • "The decision really shows that he's unhappy with the work the PUC is doing," St. Sen. Jerry Hill, (D) San Mateo told Dan Noyes. "And he's unhappy with PG&E and he's not willing to wait nor take any chances."

    State Senator Jerry Hill's district includes San Bruno, where the 2010 P-G-and-E natural gas pipeline explosion destroyed a neighborhood and killed eight people. A jury found P-G-and-E guilty of six felonies -- safety violations and obstructing the investigation.

    In his proposed order, Judge Alsup accuses the utility of violating its probation in that case, by not informing the court of the investigations it faced for the 2017 North Bay firestorms.

    "I think it's an extraordinary step," said Senator Hill. "And I think under most cases, or criminal cases where someone has been found guilty especially this case of six felonies in federal court and they violate probation, generally they wind up in prison

    RELATED: PG&E facing possibility of bankruptcy: What that means for you

    A spokesman for P-G-and-E declined an on-camera interview today, but sent a statement that reads in part, "We are committed to complying with all rules and regulations that apply to our work, while working together with our state and community partners and across all sectors and disciplines to develop comprehensive, long-term safety solutions for the future."

    Judge Alsup is very clear. His aim is to reduce wildfires caused by PG-and-E to zero. He has set a hearing on this proposed order for later this month.

    Take a look at more stories and videos by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.

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