SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to pay more than $55 million to avoid criminal prosecution for two major wildfires sparked in Northern California by its aging power lines.
The settlements with the nation's largest utility also include five years of independent oversight, which prosecutors said was a key win, similar to a five-year criminal probation that PG&E served for misconduct.
The company didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement announced Monday with prosecutors in six counties ravaged by last year's Dixie Fire and the 2019 Kincade Fire.
The civil settlements are designed to accelerate payments to hundreds of people whose homes were destroyed so they can start rebuilding more quickly than others who suffered devastating losses in 2017 and 2018 blazes ignited by PG&E’s equipment.
The utility still faces criminal charges for a 2020 fire that killed four people.
The deal also thrusts the utility back into five years of independent oversight, similar to the supervision PG&E faced during its criminal probation after it was convicted of misconduct that contributed to a natural gas explosion that killed eight people in 2010.