A fine is a price.

PG&E now knows that a human life is only worth $48,000. That's definitely going to affect their maintenance budget and executive compensation packages, but probably not in the way you'd hope.

'Guilty, your honor': PG&E enters pleas for 85 Camp Fire felonies

Bill Johnson, CEO of PG&E Corp., the utility's parent company, personally entered each of the pleadings at a hearing in Chico, the result of Butte County prosecutors' criminal investigation into the 2018 Camp Fire. The fire nearly leveled the town of Paradise and surrounding areas more than 1½ years ago, and investigators found that it was started by an old power line that PG&E allowed to deteriorate.

One by one, the judge read aloud the names of the victims, mostly elderly and infirm, who had suffered horrific, preventable deaths. The court projected their photos onto the wall. Mask pulled down, Johnson took in each picture as he entered the 85 guilty pleas on behalf of his company.

After accepting PG&E's guilt, which took more than a half-hour, Johnson said [a meaningless platitude.]

The company has agreed to pay the maximum fine of $3.5 million and another $500,000 to reimburse the district attorney's office. PG&E is already on probation because of felony convictions that arose from the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion.

Remember, kids: you should believe that corporations are people as soon as Texas executes one.

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10 Responses:

  1. Joseph Shelby says:

    Sierra Nevada's Resilience IPA program raised more than twice that amount, just from a bunch of guys across the country and around the world drinking a decent beer.

  2. Bob says:

    I seem to have to go with, the deaths of people at the hands of PG&E should probably have a multiplier.

    A large one.

    • Not Frank says:

      I think it might be better to make it exponential.

      One person dying = $24,000 * 2^1 = $48,000.

      Eighty-five people dying = $24,000 * 2^85 = $9.28 * 10^29. Guess your company's just been obliterated.

  3. Dennis Williamson says:

    P&L line item: "Cost of doing business"

  4. David Hoover says:

    Via Twitter's Certified Laser Safety Officer:

    Me: You can buy a lot of laser safety goggles for the cost of an OSHA eyewear violation.
    CEO: Eh, it's $7k at most.
    Me: Now it's $70k because that attitude makes it an "egregious violation".
    CEO: [shrugs]
    Me: [goes to look for a job in Antarctica]

  5. Eric says:

    To be fair that's several orders of magnitude more than a human life is worth according to the Minneapolis police.

  6. Ian says:

    Fine = "it's legal, if you're rich".

  7. margaret says:

    the lesson here is that its cheaper to murder in bulk.

  8. M.E. says:

    Columbia Gas was essentially executed for the 2018 gas explosions. Not much but it’s something.

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