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The Orion

Pacific Gas and Electric leave Butte County in the dark


Through this past year, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the largest electricity and gas provider in California, has been in Butte County’s spotlight. For the past year, cities across the county have persevered through the devastation of the Camp Fire. The Orion has observed PG&E’s reactions and assistance to Camp Fire victims closely since the beginning of the disaster.

November 2018

Nov. 8, 6:28 a.m.: The Camp Fire starts about seven miles northeast of Paradise on Camp Creek Road.

Nov. 8, 3:14 p.m.: PG&E announced in a press release that after a possible public safety power shutoff, it had concluded that the shutoff will not proceed.

Nov. 15: PG&E announced in a press release, “Our thoughts are with those impacted by the #campfire. We want to thank all of the first responders for their ongoing efforts.” PG&E encouraged any citizens with questions to visit their resources page for information on frequently asked questions.

Nov. 16: PG&E tweeted, “PG&E continues to support first responders, local agencies & @CAL_FIRE in response to the #CampFire. Hundreds of PG&E workers have been mobilized to begin assessing damaged power poles, wires & infrastructure.”

Nov. 19: PG&E tweeted, “We will continue restoring electricity and gas to customers who can receive service once safety officials determine it is safe to do so. PG&E has not yet gained access to Pulga & Concow.” At the time of the Tweets, gas and electric assessments in Paradise were reported as 100% complete.

December 2018

Dec. 4: PG&E Announces its plan to restore services to Butte County customers after the Camp Fire. This plan included restoring electric and gas service to customers affected by the Camp Fire in Butte County according to a PG&E News Release. “Helping these communities and our customers continue to recover and start to rebuild is our absolute focus right now…the dedicated men and women of PG&E, many of whom also live in these areas, will work side by side with our customers and our communities throughout this process,” Geisha Williams, the president and CEO of PG&E Corporation said.

January 2019

Jan. 13: Geisha Williams steps down leaving PG&E’s executive vice president and general counsel John Simon as the intermediate CEO.

Jan. 14: Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference to discuss PG&E’s plan to declare bankruptcy, in which he states, “We are not in an energy crisis…this issue is about safety, reliability, and affordability.”

Jan. 29: PG&E files for bankruptcy in the Northern District of California after facing lawsuits from more than 70 families.

April 2019

April 3: PG&E appoints Bill Johnson as CEO and president along with 10 new directors to its Board of Directors. Their new leadership focused on enhancing safety culture and operational excellence. PG&E assured the public that their new leadership has the means to bring about real and dynamic change, reinforcing their commitment to safety, continuous improvement and operational excellence. “We believe our new CEO and the newly constituted Board will help PG&E address California’s evolving energy challenges and deliver what our customers expect from their energy company,” their news release said.

May 2019

May 6: California’s three largest energy companies, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and PG&E announce a coordinated campaign to prepare Californians for the threat of extreme weather and power outages during times of increased wildfire danger. This campaign would include radio ads, preparedness resources, videos and a new website.

May 15: PG&E responded to the CAL FIRE announcement that it had determined that PG&E electrical transmission lines near Pulga were a cause of the Camp Fire. PG&E accepted this determination, according to their News Release. “Our hearts go out to those who have lost so much and we remain focused on supporting them through the recovery and rebuilding process. We also want to thank the brave first responders who worked tirelessly to save lives, contain the Camp Fire and protect citizens and communities,” their press release said.

May 22: PG&E announces in a press release that it will build underground power lines in @paradise_ca and other areas as it rebuilds from Camp Fire in a five-year effort. Their decision was influenced “to help this community recover and to harden our electric system to protect against wildfires” Aaron Johnson, vice president of electric operations at PG&E told the council of Paradise. “We decided to rebuild in this way after a careful review of factors, town planning and safety considerations. This is just one of many ways we are trying to assist communities in their recovery.”

June 2019

June 3: PG&E’s CEO Bill Johnson writes in the Sacramento Bee, “PG&E Has Not Been What California Deserves. That’s Going to Change,” stating, “I believe that the utility business exists to make people’s lives better…It’s about everyone at the company believing in safety to our very core and proving it in the choices we make every day. That’s the PG&E you deserve. Our job is to make sure that you get it.”

July 2019

July 16: PG&E released a news release ensuring their work to rebuild trust through performance. “In looking at past practices, we cannot change what has transpired. Instead, we will work as hard and as quickly as possible to get it right,” Bill Johnson said in the release.

Sept 2019

Sept. 9: PG&E announced a plan of reorganization in bankruptcy court. Their plan stresses putting wildfire victims and customers first with fair compensation. PG&E is on track to achieve confirmation of the plan in advance of the estimated date of June 30, 2020,

Sept. 13: PG&E claims an $11 billion settlement to resolve all claims arising from the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp Fire.

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or @kimberlymnews on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Kimberly Morales, Reporter
Kim moved away from her hometown, Fullerton, California to Chico to work towards a degree in journalism with an emphasis in the news option at Chico State. In her fourth semester at The Orion, Kim regularly reports topics such as local politics, crime and more. Since joining The Orion, Kim has contributed to Calmatter's college beat during the spring 2020 semester and later joined NPR’s program, Next Generation Radio in collaboration with Capradio to produce an audio story back in the fall 2020 semester. In her spare time, Kim enjoys trying to find the best coffee spot in Chico with her roommate.

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