PG&E Safety Monitor Alerts Judge of Tree-Trimming Issues Near Power Lines

The safety monitor overseeing PG&E has alerted a federal judge that its contractors’ emergency tree trimming decisions are “questionable,” and crews are missing “numerous” potentially hazardous trees.

The federal monitor told U.S. Judge William Alsup this month that the conclusions were based on a review of more than 1,500 projects. The monitor found some 400 potentially at-risk trees that it says went untrimmed. Its letter warned the company is now “falling short” of stated emergency tree clearance goals, and “the quality of the completed work is questionable.”

The monitor is helping Alsup oversee PG&E’s probation in the federal case stemming from the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. He told the company it has until Sept. 3 to respond.

PG&E said in a statement that it shares “the court’s focus on reducing wildfire risk in California.”

“We understand and recognize the serious concerns raised by the Monitor and we are taking immediate action to address these issues, which are consistent with our own internal reviews,” the statement read.

The company noted it has some 120 million trees near power lines, and while it has made progress, “we acknowledge that we have more work to do. We are pursuing a range of solutions to help make the energy system safer for the customers we serve.”

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