On Thursday, a federal judge threatened to force Pacific Gas & Electric to hire and train more line clearance tree trimmers to reduce the chances of its electrical grid sparking wildfires.
The announcement comes a day after PG&E submitted a report to U.S. District Judge William Alsup. The San Francisco based utility company acknowledged in a court filing that as many as 22,000 trees in its service territory may still be creating fire hazards. Those dangers are one reason the utility has resorted to deliberately turning off the power in dry, windy and hot conditions.
PG&E stated that the blackouts could be a recurring event throughout the next decade while it upgrades its outdated electrical grid.
The company has until February 12th to respond to Alsup.
PG&E stated that it’s unrealistic to expect it to be able to ensure all trees are maintained in a way that ensures all the branches, leaves and other vegetation remain a safe distance from its transmission lines.
“Perfect compliance would require nothing less than round-the-clock surveillance” of the tens of millions of trees that it estimates could come into contact with its lines in an expanse covering about 70,000 square miles.