SF's Hetch Hetchy pays $7M in fire settlement

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 8:42 PM

San Francisco-owned Hetch Hetchy Water and Power has agreed to pay $7 million to the federal government to settle suits over fires on federal lands the utility uses.

The U.S. Attorney's office announced the settlement Friday. It says Hetch Hetchy failed to properly clear flammable materials from nearly 6,000 acres of federal land that burned in 1999 and 2004.

The federal government says the blazes were ignited by electrical discharges near trees that should have been cleared.

Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for the utility, says Hetch Hetchy Water and Power did not acknowledge any wrongdoing. Still, Winnicker says it has since stepped up its efforts to prevent fires.

Hetch Hetchy delivers water and hydroelectric power from the Yosemite Valley to the San Francisco Bay area.