A federal judge who has overseen Pacific Gas \u0026amp; Electric\u0026#039;s soon-to-expire felony probation is calling for the California utility company to be broken up, warning that PG\u0026amp;E is emerging from its five-year probationary period as \u0022a continuing menace\u0022 to the state.\r\n\r\nNoting that PG\u0026amp;E pled guilty to dozens of manslaughter charges and caused more than 30 wildfires since entering probation in 2017, U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote in a report last week that he \u0022must acknowledge failure\u0022 in his attempt to rehabilitate the company.\r\n\r\n\u0022While on probation, PG\u0026amp;E has set at least 31 wildfires, burned nearly one and one-half million acres, burned 23,956 structures, and killed 113 Californians.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022In these five years, PG\u0026amp;E has gone on a crime spree,\u0022 Alsup wrote. \u0022While on probation, PG\u0026amp;E has set at least 31 wildfires, burned nearly one and one-half million acres, burned 23,956 structures, and killed 113 Californians.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe company\u0026#039;s executives entered probation, which is set to end at midnight Tuesday, after being convicted in 2016 of crimes that caused a natural gas explosion in San Bruno in 2010, killing eight people.\r\n\r\nIn 2020, PG\u0026amp;E CEO Bill Johnson pled guilty on behalf of the company to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise—leaving just 5% of its buildings undamaged.\r\n\r\nAn investigation revealed that the company let its power grid deteriorate and scaled back inspections of its equipment, allowing a hook connected to a transmission tower to break and start the Camp Fire.\r\n\r\nLast year, PG\u0026amp;E\u0026#039;s failure to remove a pine tree that its contractors had marked for clearance years earlier was blamed for the Zogg Fire, which filled four people ranging in age from eight to 79. The company was charged with 11 more felony counts including manslaughter.\r\n\r\nAs the charges have mounted in the past five years, victims have called on prosecutors and Alsup to extend the company\u0026#039;s probation to no avail.\r\n\r\nAccording to former California power regulator Catherine Sandoval, federal prosecutors have declined to extend the period of court supervision because \u0022there appears to be no binding case law on this point.\u0022\r\n\r\nClosing out the probation, Alsup recommended that PG\u0026amp;E be broken up into two separate utilities.\r\n\r\n\u0022Less sprawling utilities would be easier to train and to instill practices and procedures that truly put safety first,\u0022 the judge wrote.\r\n\r\nAs it stands, he said, \u0022we remain trapped in a tragic era of PG\u0026amp;E wildfires because for decades it neglected its duties concerning hazard-tree removal and vegetation clearance, even though such duties were required by California\u0026#039;s Public Resource Code.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe company\u0026#039;s outsourcing of tree clearance to independent contractors has been a main driver of its continued sparking of wildfires, said Alsup, including the Kincade and Dixie Fires during the probation.\r\n\r\nEarlier this month, Cal Fire concluded that the Dixie Fire—the second-largest wildfire in California history—was caused when a tree fell on PG\u0026amp;E\u0026#039;s power line.\r\n\r\n\u0022PG\u0026amp;E and its reckless disregard for its own power line infrastructure puts thousands of families at risk of losing everything, even their lives,\u0022 said Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook.\r\n\r\nThe Mercury News editorial board on Saturday wrote that Alsup\u0026#039;s admission that he cannot stop PG\u0026amp;E\u0026#039;s \u0022reign of terror\u0022 was \u0022stunning.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022In effect, the judge told Californians that they cannot count on the courts to hold PG\u0026amp;E accountable. But the 16 million customers served by PG\u0026amp;E\u0026nbsp;can\u0026#039;t keep waiting,\u0022 wrote the board, adding that the state must take action to avoid further death and destruction:\r\n\r\n\r\nAs we have said repeatedly, the state and the California Public Utilities Commission must step up and initiate a takeover of the utility. Now. Before PG\u0026amp;E wreaks further havoc on our lives.\r\n\r\nThe question now is not whether to take over the failed utility, but how: What is the best way to replace the company? Should it be split up? Run by the state? By a nonprofit? By another utility company? It\u0026#039;s past time for state officials to figure that out—and to act.\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022It\u0026#039;s long past time to end this outrage,\u0022 added the editors.\r\n\r\nAlsup noted in his report that the vast majority of survivors are still awaiting compensation from the $97 billion power company while \u0022management pays itself handsome salaries and bonuses, all paid from revenues collected from customers.”\r\n\r\nIn a brief filed with Alsup during PG\u0026amp;E\u0026#039;s probation, Sandoval accused the company of \u0022cognitive immaturity\u0022 and \u0022lazy thinking\u0022 that has led to its persistent crimes against Californians, calling for the company\u0026#039;s executives to submit to counseling as an individual might after being released from incarceration or probation.\r\n\r\n\u0022PG\u0026amp;E, the corporation, needs the training an individual criminal defendant would have received in prison to break the cycle of criminal thinking that endangers public safety,\u0022 wrote Sandoval.