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PG&E disputes Shasta County criminal charges related to 2020 Zogg Fire 

Statement released from CEO Patti Poppe

– PG&E Corporation shared a statement from CEO Patti Poppe this week regarding criminal charges filed by the Shasta County District Attorney’s office related to the September 2020 Zogg Fire.

“We’ve accepted CAL FIRE’s determination, reached earlier this year, that a tree contacted our electric line and started the Zogg Fire,” wrote Poppe in a press release, “We accept that conclusion. But we did not commit a crime.”

Today’s climate and unprecedented drought have forever changed the relationship between trees and power lines, Poppe says. “And please know we’re not sitting idly by. We have established a new standard for our lines and the vegetation near them because it poses such a real risk to our communities.”

Here are a few other facts released by PG&E:

Between October 2018 and last year’s Zogg Fire:

• Two trained arborists walked this line and independent of one another determined the tree in question could stay.
• We trimmed or removed over 5,000 trees on this very circuit alone.
• This year we will remove 300,000 trees statewide.

Right now, PG&E is:

• Investing more than $1.4 billion this year alone in vegetation management;
• Removing 300,000 trees and trimming 1 million more;
• Working toward burying 10,000 miles of power lines;
• Installing remote and micro grids to eliminate the wires altogether; and
• Reestablishing and building our system to a new standard of resilience that keeps communities safe and powered as the climate continues to change around us.

“We are seeing signs of progress. For example, even during this year, with extreme drought conditions, we have reduced our ignitions over 50-percent,” Popee states. “That is our best ever performance since we have been tracking this and yet, we are still dissatisfied. That’s why we are not going to stop there… We’re putting everything we’ve got into preventing wildfires and reducing the risk. Though it may feel satisfying for the company of PG&E to be charged with a crime, what I know is the company of PG&E is people, 40,000 people who get up every day to make it safe and to end catastrophic wildfire and tragedies like this.”

The statement is also available on PG&E Currents and broadcast quality video is available here.

Details about PG&E’s efforts to further reduce the growing wildfire risk, harden its systems, and use new technologies to help keep its communities safe can be found in the company’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.