PG&E Ordered to Pay $20 Million for Flawed Fire Blackouts


California regulators said PG&E Corp. should pay a $20 million fine for flaws in the way it carried out intentional power cuts in 2019 to prevent live wires from sparking wildfires.

PG&E’s total penalty was $106 million, but that amount will be offset by $86 million in bill credits that were already provided to customers at the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, according to a statement by the California Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday.

The $20 million will be paid by PG&E shareholders in the form of customer bill credits and a contribution to a backup battery program, according to a decision by an administrative law judge with the commission. The judge said the penalty was due to violations including the failure of PG&E’s website during the intentional blackouts, the inaccuracy of PG&E’s outage maps and the failure of PG&E to notify 50,000 customers of the impending power cuts.

The order will become final unless a party to the case files an appeal or a commissioner requests a review of it.

PG&E said it was reviewing the judge’s order and will evaluate whether to appeal it. The company said it has taken a number of actions to correct the issues that occurred.

PG&E started resorting to deliberate blackouts after its equipment caused some of the worst wildfires in California history, forcing the company into bankruptcy in 2019. The utility emerged from Chapter 11 last July after having paid $25.5 billion to resolve fire claims.

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