Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE:PCG)
Historical Stock Chart
6 Months : From Apr 2019 to Oct 2019
By Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold
PG&E Corp. said it is working to repair nearly 10,000 problems it discovered throughout its electrical system as it steps up efforts to prevent its equipment from sparking more wildfires.
The company posted to its website the results of an accelerated inspection process that began late last year. The company said it discovered more than 1,000 immediate safety risks and has repaired nearly all of them, as well as thousands of other lower-priority ones. But it is still working through more than 3,700 repairs as California's wildfire season proceeds.
The problems include damaged transmission towers, broken hardware on local distribution poles and leaking transformers in its substations. The company didn't give details on the electric lines and substations in need of work but said it plans to complete most of its high-priority repairs within about three months.
PG&E began enhanced inspections late last year after the Caribou-Palermo transmission line started a wildfire that killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise in November. It shared the inspection results with the California Public Utilities Commission last month and pledged to do more to make its system safer.
The San Francisco-based utility, which serves 16 million people, said that the information published Monday reflects work completed as of May 31 and will be updated regularly.
"As part of its commitment to be open and transparent, PG&E has made available on its website additional, community-specific information about accelerated and enhanced safety inspections and repairs," the company said.
Many of the remaining problems are concentrated in rural counties in Northern California, where wildfire risk is elevated. In Butte County, where the November Camp Fire broke out, PG&E said it has made 253 repairs and is still working to address 244 others.
PG&E equipment in more-populated counties near San Francisco, including Sonoma, Marin and Santa Cruz, is also in need of numerous repairs.
A Wall Street Journal investigation found that PG&E knew for years that its transmission lines could fail and spark fires, yet the company repeatedly delayed maintenance and repair work. Much of PG&E's electrical grid was first built a century ago, and some of its transmission towers have never been replaced.
State investigators tied PG&E's equipment to 19 major wildfires in 2017 and 2018. The company sought bankruptcy protection in January, citing more than $30 billion in potential liability costs.
The inspections, which involved 50,000 transmission towers, 700,000 distribution poles and 222 substations connecting thousands of miles of wire, were part of PG&E's latest wildfire-mitigation plan, which involves trimming hundreds of thousands of trees away from its power lines and installing technology to monitor fire risk throughout its electric system. The company anticipates the improvements to cost as much as $2.3 billion.
PG&E first disclosed some of the findings of its enhanced inspections last month after it shared the results with state regulators. The company also announced it had decided to de-energize the Caribou-Palermo transmission line permanently after discovering extensive safety problems.
Write to Katherine Blunt at Katherine.Blunt@wsj.com and Russell Gold at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 15, 2019 22:33 ET (02:33 GMT)
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