PG&E had been urged by an outside consultant eight years before the disastrous Camp fire to perform the kind of routine climbing inspections on its aging transmission towers that some experts say could have averted the disaster. But apparently, the utility failed to heed the advice.
Back in 2010, Quanta Technologies did an assessment of PG&E’s transmission towers and found a growing risk of failure. The report, disclosed to state regulators who tried to convince federal regulators PG&E was overcharging customers, focused on thousands of steel transmission towers that were already 80 years old, or even older.
Quanta advised PG&E to comprehensively inspect some of them for “structure and foundation integrity” as “an appropriate beginning.’’
Towers like the one where a worn hook failed before the Camp fire last year, should have been climbed and inspected every three to five years, the consultants said. Instead, an accounting by PG&E shows the company relied on helicopter patrols and ground-based inspections, which are less expensive.