Judge Says Uninsulated Power Conductors, Not Climate Change Caused California Fires


U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup found that equipment owned by the utility company Pacific Gas and Electric was the cause of some wildfires due to tree limbs and other debris knocking uninsulated power conductors together, NBC News has reported. 

“The Court tentatively finds that the single most recurring cause of the large 2017 and 2018 wildfires attributable to PG&E’s equipment has been the susceptibility of PG&E’s distribution lines to trees or limbs falling onto them during high-wind events.”

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NBC News:

A federal court in San Francisco tentatively found that equipment owned by Northern California utility Pacific Gas and Electric was “the single most recurring cause” in deadly wildfires that have plagued the state since 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup made the finding Thursday in a case related to PG&E’s response to the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion.

“The Court tentatively finds that the single most recurring cause of the large 2017 and 2018 wildfires attributable to PG&E’s equipment has been the susceptibility of PG&E’s distribution lines to trees or limbs falling onto them during high-wind events,” his order in the case reads.

“The power conductors are almost always uninsulated,” Alsup wrote. “When the conductors are pushed together by falling trees or limbs, electrical sparks drop into the vegetation below. During the wildfire season when the vegetation is dry, these electrical sparks pose an extreme danger of igniting a wildfire.” More

None of the HV lines on the pole tops are insulated. Not only would it be cost prohibitive to insulate them, it would decrease the amount of heat they can dissipate. Thus, vastly reducing their power carrying capacity.

You’ve got to keep the vegetation cut back from the lines. Preventing PG&E from keeping the easements free of the brush is the cause. That isn’t faulty equipment.

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