By David Hollister
Plumas County District Attorney
I am very grateful to see PG&E’s contributions being distributed to various groups throughout Plumas County. Starting May 10th, the first set of checks ($5.1 million dollars) was distributed. The second set of checks ($11.9 million dollars) should be delivered on July 12. I have very much been holding my breath to actually see Plumas County realize the benefits from the settlement of the criminal prosecution. I have received countless emails from survivors of other fires (Tubbs, Camp, etc) who, years later, have yet to see any significant relief. While I wish there was more funding available and some very worthy groups did not receive a contribution, I am steadfast in my belief each group receiving a contribution will play an integral role in Plumas County’s recovery.
Along with the distribution of checks, there are a number of updates I wish to share. This settlement of the criminal prosecution is really unchartered territory – there has never been a similar criminal prosecution settlement from a PG&E started wildfire either in size or in scope. This settlement not only provides our community with help but it provides it with hope.
As a reminder, the settlement I am discussing concerns the criminal prosecution. Had we successfully prosecuted PG&E, the five involved counties would have achieved a maximum fine of $329,417 against PG&E for the conviction of four felony crimes. Of that fine, $98,825 would have stayed with, and likely be split by, the five counties impacted by the Dixie Fire. The settlement of the criminal case achieved here will likely be in the hundreds of millions of dollars with needed safety, hiring, and education improvements. This settlement of the criminal case does not impact any civil suits by Plumas County, local entities or individuals against PG&E.
In addition to making good faith contributions to some of our local non-profits as part of the judgment in the criminal case, PG&E is engaging in the promised safety fixes. Also, a firm to Monitor PG&E, at PG&E’s expense, has been retained and is already at work.
The Direct Payments for Community Recovery (DPCR) began in early May. This is an option for those who residence was destroyed to receive a settlement quickly based on a set valuation. This program does not include ranch, timber, commercial or damaged property. Those unable to take advantage of the DPCR, if they suffered damages, would sue PG&E just as every claimant has done in every previous fire. My sole preference is for our citizens to be made whole as soon as possible.