Saturday, 16 February, 2019

PG&E Officially Votes To File For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Wildfire-scorched PG&E, California's biggest utility, files for bankruptcy PG&E, owner of biggest US power utility, files for bankruptcy
Russell Knight | 02 February, 2019, 17:31

Filing for bankruptcy would shield PG&E from claims, giving it time to figure out next steps.

The energy supplier was recently cleared of causing the Tubbs Fire by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), which is responsible for determining the origin and cause and of wildfires.

"It shows PG&E does not actually have the best interests of the wildfire victims in mind", she said. "What do we do?"

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PG&E reported "an outage" on a transmission line in the area where the blaze began, about 15 minutes before it started. A consortium including Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp. was said to have sent a proposal to PG&E backed by $4 billion of bonds that could convert into shares.

PG&E has already decided not to renew the federal licenses for two hydroelectric dams, and critics say more than 100 others are also on the chopping block, according to The Sacramento Bee. PG&E has stated in recent court filings that such an effort would require hiring hundreds of thousands of workers and cost between $75 billion and $150 billion.

Instead, they will have to tussle with PG&E's creditors, including bondholders, for a payout from the company. But there weren't enough qualified tree trimmers, and shutting off power would have "repercussions that affect the community", he said. "The state is facing a fundamental problem", Orsini said.

His home in Napa County was destroyed in 2017 in a fire that investigators say started when an oak tree fell onto a PG&E power line. The move prompted complaints and demands for reimbursement from some customers.

PG&E made agreements in 2017 to buy electricity from solar farms.

It's also conducting a review of PG&E's safety culture that could result in replacing the utility's entire board, breaking up its electric and gas division or other major changes.

"With utilities, bankruptcies take multiple years", Kit Konolige, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said in an interview before the filing.

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"I'm just not there to do that, to make that change, and to shift the risk to the taxpayers at this point in time", he said.

"I don't think that we are prepared in any way here in the state of California for the enormity of what we're seeing", he said.

A PG&E truck carrying an American Flag drives past PG&E fix trucks in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018.

Whether the victims receive compensation soon will depend on the court-approved financial plan, the attorney said.

Alsup only briefly mentioned the bankruptcy case during Wednesday's hearing.

The Chapter 11 filing allows PG&E to continue operating while it puts its finances in order.

California regulators are poised for a bankruptcy declaration by the nation's largest utility as it faces billions of dollars in potential damages from wildfires in the state.

Alsup said he would wait to see a wildfire mitigation plan PG&E was scheduled to submit to the CPUC on February 6 before deciding what, if any, additional requirements to order. The company indeed filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy 15 days later.

The fire claimed the lives of 86 people and it destroyed more than 14,000 homes.

PG&E works on power lines to fix damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018.

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