PG&E says it has reached $13.5 billion wildfire settlement

Clay Curtis
December 8, 2019

California's bankrupt power producer PG&E Corp PCG.N said on Friday it had reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of some of most devastating wildfires in the state's modern history.

Sources said that "We want to help our customers, neighbors and friends in these affected areas, so that the area can be restored after the tragic wildfires".

State fire investigators have tied PG&E transmission lines to the Camp Fire in California in 2018, which killed 85 people in the vicinity of the town of Paradise. More than 18,600 structures were destroyed in the blaze, which scorched upwards of 150,000 acres in Northern California's Butte County.

Friday's settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

With all major wildfire claims now on a path to be resolved and the total amount of wildfire liabilities determined, PG&E will now amend and finalize its Plan, which will satisfy all wildfire claims in accordance with Assembly Bill 1054 (AB 1054) and otherwise comply with all requirements of the Bankruptcy Code. "We believe the settlement achieves this delicate balance". The 2018 wildfire season was the worst that California has ever seen, leaving 103 people dead and 22,751 buildings destroyed.

They likewise concluded that PG&E energy traces had sparked a separate flurry of wildfires that swept California's wine nation north of San Francisco Bay in 2017.

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"The goal of the litigation from the very beginning has been to change their behavior, and that is their lack of safety standards and the way they manage and maintain their equipment", attorney James Frantz said of PG&E. A February hearing at which an official estimation of losses will be made still looms for the utility and could upend any settlement deals.

"We appreciate all the hard work by many stakeholders that went into reaching this agreement".

PG&E has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows for restructuring.

"With this important milestone now accomplished, we are focused on emerging from Chapter 11 as the utility of the future that our customers and communities expect and deserve", Chief Government Officer Invoice Johnson stated in a press release.

The agreement settles the last major lawsuit to arise from the 2017-2018 fires, following a $1 settlement with affected cities and counties, and an $11 billion settlement with the insurance companies handling claims.

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