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PG&E Monitor: Inspectors Missing Potentially Hazardous Trees Near Power Lines

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A court-appointed monitor told a federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday that PG&E Co.'s tree inspectors are missing some trees that may be at risk of causing fires by falling on electric lines.

Monitor Mark Filip wrote to U.S. District Judge William Alsup, "PG&E's contractors are missing numerous trees that should have been identified and worked (on) under applicable regulation and the Enhanced Vegetation Management program."

Filip also told the judge that there are record-keeping problems, saying that "PG&E's systems for recording, tracking and assigning EVM work are not reliable or consistent and are likely contributing to the identified quality issues."

But Filip said his monitoring team of arborists and lawyers is "building a good feedback loop with PG&E" and that the utility has been responsive to reports of deficiencies in the program.

Alsup has ordered the utility to respond by Sept. 3 and has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 17.

Filip's report was submitted to Alsup on July 26 and made public Wednesday after Alsup on Monday ordered it to be placed on the public case docket.

Alsup is overseeing PG&E's probation in a criminal pipeline safety case stemming from the fatal explosion of a PG&E natural gas pipeline in San Bruno in 2010.

PG&E spokesman James Noonan said in a statement, "We share the court's focus on reducing wildfire risk in California.... We continue to work transparently and cooperatively with the federal monitor and his team."

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