California Wildfire Claims Leads to PG&E Bankruptcy Filing
California Wildfire Claims Leads to PG&E Bankruptcy Filing
Wildfire-scorched PG&E, California's biggest utility, files for bankruptcy
02 February, 2019, 17:30
PG&E works on power lines to fix damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018.
"I just know in my heart of hearts that we need to have a change in management, which we've had some, and we need to have a change in the boardroom", Dodd said. Company advisers expect that it may take up to two years to emerge from bankruptcy.
The company cited hundreds of lawsuits from victims of that blaze and others in 2017 and 2018 when it announced this month that it planned to file for bankruptcy.
Filing for bankruptcy would shield PG&E from claims, giving it time to figure out next steps.
California lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom say they'll work to ensure the state's electric service is safe, reliable and affordable while PG&E navigates through bankruptcy. But the California Public Utilities Commission told the judge on Monday that his proposed order "will in all likelihood conflict with and frustrate the extensive federal statutory and state Constitutional and statutory regulatory scheme under which the CPUC regulates PG&E", and that any pre-emptive de-energizing of the grid must be done "selectively" and "under carefully considered, specified conditions".
The blazes include the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century - the one in November that killed at least 86 people and destroyed 15,000 homes in and around the Northern California town of Paradise.
A US judge says he will give the public a chance to weigh in on Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.'s bankruptcy.
The law allows PG&E to hike rates on its customers to pay off liabilities for 2017 wildfires.
This week, investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection cleared PG&E of responsibility for starting the Tubbs Fire, slashing the estimated $15 billion in damages from that fire from its list of liabilities.
John R. Simon said in a statement Tuesday that the country's largest utility is dedicated to rebuilding California communities devastated by wildfires.
He said he had not yet had a chance to catch up with all the paperwork PG&E had filed.
Power cutoffs impact first responders, critical medical care and phone service and are potentially fatal, the utility said in its court filing. The costs are high, but the risks of catastrophic damage appear to be growing.
Democratic state Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents much of the Northern California area devastated by wildfires in 2017, said PG&E needs new leadership that prioritizes "a culture of safety". It outmaneuvered Berkshire Hathaway Inc.by acquiring a small parcel of unsecured debt in Oncor Electric Delivery Co., opening a window for Sempra Energy to swoop in and strike a deal to acquire the Texas utility. PG&E is considered a linchpin in helping achieve California's ambitious climate goal of getting all its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. PG&E, for example, made agreements in 2017 to buy electricity from solar farms.
Some consumer advocates and lawyers for fire victims have warned that the bankruptcy filing could lead to higher rates for consumers and make it harder for people affected by the fires to receive compensation, the New York Times reports.
PG&E's stock is down 70 percent from about a year ago amid fears about the effects of the wildfires.
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