ICYMI: PG&E Considering Options Like Downsizing and Bankruptcy

Here is the latest on what Pacific Gas & Electric is doing internally to prepare for the possibility of a large financial liability due to the Camp Fire.

Posted: Jan 5, 2019 3:55 PM
Updated: Jan 7, 2019 10:35 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Big changes could be coming to PG&E, which announced on Friday that it is conducting a review of its finances and corporate structure.

While PG&E did not elaborate, there are news reports Friday that the utility giant is considering breaking up the company, or perhaps declaring bankruptcy. 

NPR and Reuters delivered two bombshell reports about the potential future of Pacific Gas and Electric. NPR says PG&E is considering selling off its natural gas division, which is news to state Senator Jerry Hill.

"They were doing that at the exact same time they were trying to fool the legislature," he said. "The narrative was, either bankruptcy or bailout." 

Hill explained that the legislature gave PG&E a bailout, and said at the same time, they did not come forward and were not honest.

"They weren't showing the best integrity by not telling that they were looking at an alternative way of the liability," Hill said. 

The Reuters report reveals that the utility giant is preparing for a bankruptcy filing due to mounting liability from the deadly Camp Fire that destroyed much of the Butte County town of Paradise, and neighboring communities like Concow and Magalia.

"If PG&E declares bankruptcy, it is PG&E essentially saying that they care more about saving the behinds of the executives than compensating all the people they victimized," said Millbrae Attorney Amanda Riddle. "It sends a message that PG&E is not willing to do the right thing and compensate all of these people it's harmed." 

Since the Camp Fire began PG&E's stock value has taken a nearly 60 percent nosedive to 19 dollars a share as of Friday night.

Senator Hill thinks breaking up the utility is the correct move. By spinning off their gas and electric systems, they will become a size they can manage, the Senator said.

"I think what we've seen over the last few years is they've become too big to succeed," Hill said. 

Attorney Riddle represents more than 700 Camp Fire victims who lost homes to flames that PG&E equipment is under investigation for sparking. She says bankruptcy only harms those folks even more, likely leaving many without enough money to rebuild.

The victims would be compensated nowhere near what they should be entitled to in a court of law, she explained.

Friday PG&E issued a statement about refreshing their board and looking at structural options.

State Senator Hill is wary of any decision the utility makes.

"PG&E will do whatever is in their best interests, regardless of anything else," Hill said.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the Camp Fire, but the company itself has reported major damage to a high voltage line at the spot the fire started near Pulga.

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