After bankruptcy, PG&E headed back to court over wildfires

After bankruptcy, PG&E headed back to court over wildfires

Approximately 50 complaints have been filed against the company on behalf of more than 2,000 plaintiffs related to the Camp Fire, and PG&E doesn't have the insurance to cover the claims, the company said in an SEC filing.

PG&E said Tuesday that in deciding to declare bankruptcy, it had already taken into account its longstanding belief that the company did not start the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

The utility filed documents in a USA court seeking Chapter 11 reorganisation despite state investigators determining last week that its equipment was not to blame for a 2017 fire that killed 22 people in Northern California wine country. The measures the judge has proposed would be part of the utility's probation. "These agreements are still subject to the Commission's jurisdiction and the Commission maintains discretion to exercise its authority".

NextEra earlier this month asked FERC to block the utility from amending or rejecting PPAs with several providers.

PG&E's bankruptcy filing made clear that it will continue its operations, including fire prevention efforts.

The law allows PG&E to hike rates on its customers to pay off liabilities for 2017 wildfires.

The San Francisco-based owner of the biggest US power utility warned in November it could face significant liability in excess of its insurance coverage if its equipment was found to have caused the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, California, last year.

Utilities around the nation are preparing for the potential effects of climate change, taking such steps as fortifying substations and burying power lines against severe hurricanes and wildfires.

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Faced with potentially ruinous lawsuits over California's wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday in a move that could drive up rates for customers of the nation's biggest utility and reduce the size of any payouts fire victims receive. The comprehensive analysis underlying PG&E's decision to pursue reorganization under Chapter 11, conducted with the assistance of independent legal and financial advisors, took into account PG&E's longstanding belief based on available evidence that its equipment did not cause the Tubbs Fire. It is believed that the Camp Fire was started when a PG&E power line came in contact with nearby trees.

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

The utility earlier this month said it meant to use the Court-supervised Chapter 11 process to facilitate the "orderly, fair and expeditious resolution" of the liabilities that it faced in connection with wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.

"What assurance can I give my constituents that things are going to be safer this year?" "I would be surprised if this is the last utility that's going to have to deal with this".

California has set a goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectricity by 2045.

BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, a NY investment firm that bought shares right before the stock collapsed, has challenged the California power giant's plans to seek bankruptcy protection.

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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