Going Rogue: PG&E Emergency Vegetation Management Work

From our NapaVision 2050 friends. An Alert has gone out to be aware that PG & E have brought in out of state tree removal crews to remove vegetation from a 15 foot swath on either side of their power lines.  

The following note was sent to Mike Thompson’s office in Napa, they queried the Wash DC PGE rep and received the attached explanation.

PG&E is gearing up for a push to remove trees near and possibly seen as a danger to their distribution lines throughout Napa County and Northern California. 

Distribution Lines are those lines delivering power to residences and businesses (the local grid crossing private property and roads), they are not Transmission Lines that deliver High Voltage power across great distances from power plants to sub stations near cities, etc.

Normally PG&E is required by law to inform the landowner about the inspections and the decisions to remove or limb up trees and conduct an environmental (CEQA) review of the proposed work.  Normally this is a Voluntary Program where the landowner is notified of the proposed trimming/cutting and given the chance to refuse the work/tree cutting.  The cutting area is described as 15 feet on each side of the wires, 12′ off the ground or ability to drop a limb on or fall on the wires.

PG&E is not planning to notify the landowner nor do the environmental review for this proposed work.  PG&E is not considering this work to be voluntary and will do the work no matter if they are required to notify the landowner or not. They are disregarding all Rules and Regulations and they plan to do this as quickly as possible by sending in inspectors to mark the trees and cutting crews to quickly follow.  Should they be stopped by a landowner, they will keep returning until the landowner is absent or unable to refuse the work, and quickly drop any trees or do the limbing.

Napa County Roads (Public Works) may be treated the same as all other landowners.

The work load is proposed for 6 days per week with a work day ending @ 8pm @ night.  The Work Rates are Emergency Storm Rates, a very lucrative compensation rate.  Crews are being summoned from throughout the United States and generally are not local. 

The inspections are scheduled to start today, Friday, 9/7/18, but this might be delayed a few day by the introduction and training for a new Smart Phone Application (APP) to records of the work.  Be prepared for work to start right away.

PG&E is blaming the trees for the recent fires throughout California, yet the trees are not the main driver for the disastrous fires of October 2017, which were wind driven by the weather, as it destroyed homes, forests, businesses, jumping 10 lanes or freeway/roads in Santa Rosa (without any trees nearby), etc.  These decisions are erratic and dangerous to all residents, landowners, businesses, home owners and the rule of law.

G. Margadant 

PG & E’s response:
Subject: PG&E Emergency Vegetation Management Work

In response to the recent and dramatically increasing wildfire threats, PG&E is taking immediate action on emergency vegetation management work to create greater clearances between power lines and trees in areas designated by the California Public Utilities Commission as extreme fire threat areas across our service area. This includes portions of the Congressman’s district, including federal lands. For your reference, the CPUC Tier 3 fire risk maps, released in January, can be foundhere.  More detailed information can also be found here: https://ia.cpuc.ca.gov/firemap/

 

The work is an acceleration of the enhanced vegetation management efforts PG&E had already begun with our Community Wildfire Safety Program, which incorporates new state vegetation and fire safety standards from the CPUC to maintain a 4 foot minimum clearance at all times, and recommend clearances of 12 feet or more to allow for growth and ensure compliance year-round. The emergency vegetation management work goes one step further by addressing any overhanging branches or limbs, which have the potential to come into contact with power lines during extreme weather. Inspections for this work will be starting in the coming weeks. We will be conducting this work between now and the end of the 2018 wildfire season. 

PG&E is committed to working together with customers to provide advanced notification, review any needed work and answer any questions. We are hopeful that our customers and communities will understand and support this critical safety work. Attached for your reference is a doorknocker we will be using for our customer outreach. 

Please reach out with any questions or concerns, and thank you in advance for your support.  Hope you are well. 

Silvia Aldana

Federal Affairs

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

1 comment

  1. Goldie Brown

    WARNING: PG&E is unilaterally & illegally removing trees at a rapid rate without prior notice, explanation or compromise. The most egregious of their actions is to incentivize their subcontractors to cut & not maintain. These kickbacks create flat-out lying & strong bullying tactics. Our money is being pocketed by them while our bills are skyrocketing from their incompetence during the fires. Disingenuous: Revised easements, rights-of-way & paths-of-way; ID of marked trees [pruning only & not cutting]; compatible vs. incompatible vegetation; and definitely NOT 12′ or 15′ clearances. Only when the homeowners approach them, they claim 45′. Within these immediate environs, on the chopping block are 200+ healthy, matured trees at 30′ clearance. Do NOT fall for their spiels as they fell your trees!

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