During its five years of criminal probation, PG&E has been blamed for more than 30 wildfires, destroying 23,000 homes, and killing 113 Californians, raising questions about the effectiveness of  corporate probation.  

The San Bruno explosion of 2010 killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, an act of negligence that earned PG&E six guilty felony counts, and five years of criminal probation, which started in early 2017. Well, has PG&E cleaned up its act since then? As the Bay Area News Group reports, “The death and destruction linked to the utility since 2017 has been staggering: 31 wildfires, burning 23,956 structures and nearly 1.5 million acres — and killing 113 Californians.”

The consensus opinion is that PG&E’s probation has… not done much to curb the company’s behavior of diverting maintenance money towards executive bonuses. And as the Associated Press reports, even the judge overseeing the company’s probation says the PG&E remains “a menace to California.”

As the five-year probation ends Tuesday night at midnight, presiding Judge William Alsup wrote a scorching opinion on how PG&E has become an even more dangerous company under its probation. “In these five years, PG&E has gone on a crime spree and will emerge from probation as a continuing menace to California,” Alsup’s oversight report said. “We have tried hard to rehabilitate PG&E,” he said, but added, “As the supervising district judge, however, I must acknowledge failure.”

That five years of probation included PG&E pleading guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter in the 2018 Camp Fire and four more in the 2020 Zogg Fire, plus more looming felony charges from the 2019 Kincade Fire. Criminal charges are probably also coming for their role in this past summer’s Dixie Fire.

What’s more, PG&E has apparently been stiffing fire victims out of their settlement money. “Almost all of the survivors of these fires are still waiting for compensation,” Judge Alsup wrote. “Many hundreds who lost their homes endure in travel trailers because they have not yet been compensated. Meanwhile, PG&E management pays itself handsome salaries and bonuses, all paid from revenues collected from customers.”

Meanwhile, PG&E is also shoveling tens of thousands of dollars into (checks notes) the Recall the SF school board campaign, while children are living in trailers because PG&E hasn’t paid their families' wildfire settlement money yet.

Related: Yep, PG&E Lines Responsible for Dixie Fire [SFist]

Image: MisterOh via Wikimedia Commons