Newsletter: As California burns, PG&E CEO promises: ‘We are going to fix our stuff’

A firefighter battles the Alisal fire along the 101 Freeway near Goleta on Tuesday.

This is the Oct. 14, 2021, edition of Boiling Point, a weekly newsletter about climate change and the environment in California and the American West. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

I don’t envy Patti Poppe.

In the nine months since she took the helm of Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest and possibly most hated utility, Poppe has seen the firm potentially implicated in the 963,000-acre Dixie fire and brought up on criminal charges stemming from two other blazes. This for a company that last year pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter after sparking the fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, and a few months later exited bankruptcy after facing tens of billions of dollars in wildfire liabilities.

When I got on the phone with Poppe for the first time Wednesday, I was told she wanted to start with prepared remarks. Curious, I listened as the veteran utility executive insisted PG&E is finally making real progress on reducing the risk of ignitions. She said the company is taking “breakthrough actions” such as trimming and removing more trees in risky areas, adding weather stations and high-definition cameras to help identify threats in real time, and beginning to bury some electric lines underground.

Credits: LA Times

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