Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityPG&E addresses claims of tree worker layoffs | KRCR
Close Alert

PG&E addresses claims of tree worker layoffs

A Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Company sign. (KRCR)
A Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Company sign. (KRCR)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

Last week, concerned viewers reached out to our newsroom regarding contracted union tree workers being let go by PG&E, leaving them jobless. Supposedly, their roles had been filled by out-of-state PG&E employees.

KRCR took these concerns to PG&E and asked for confirmation of the situation and, if so, some insight into their staffing decisions. Although they declined an interview, they did provide the following statement:

"The safety and reliability of the gas and electric service that we provide to our customers is always PG&E’s primary responsibility.

To be clear, we are not doing layoffs. Like other utilities, PG&E staffs to meet its work plans. We start with our own employees and then use contractors as a flexible resource that we ramp up or ramp down based on the amount of work that needs to be done.

We’re investing to update PG&E’s infrastructure at an unprecedented rate and will prioritize safety through our risk reduction and compliance programs.

We have streamlined our vegetation management contracting strategy, to make sure that it delivers high-quality work in a way that’s affordable for customers. We’re also looking to do more of our tree work in-house, including hiring 150 vegetation management inspectors as PG&E employees this year.

And we’re incorporating other wildfire mitigation programs such as Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings, which turn off power automatically when a risk is detected and have proven to be an essential and effective tool for reducing ignitions.

Undergrounding more of our powerlines in high fire-risk areas to improve safety and significantly reduce the risk of wildfires also will lessen the need for ongoing vegetation management.

Overall, we have reduced the number of contractors working for PG&E in recent weeks due to several factors, including completing or nearly completing the 2022 work plans these contractors had supported. Additionally, some of our vegetation management work takes place in the mountains, and recent snow has caused that work to stop for the season due to safety and access issues. In addition, we do have a typical end of year ramp-down on contractors generally.

The significant reduction in fire acreage in 2022 also is a factor as PG&E tree contractors are often required to remove dead, dying or burnt trees after a fire. CAL FIRE reports that 362,476 acres have burned in California this year compared to more than 2.5 million acres last year and the five-year average of 2.2 million acres.

As we move into 2023, we will match our work plans with the needed human resources and make those decisions as appropriate."


Comment bubble

To report errors or issues with this article please email the editorial team.

Loading ...