SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – PG&E will officially file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the utility announced Monday. The move comes as the utility faces at billions in liabilities from wildfires caused by its equipment.
Filing for bankruptcy will essentially ensure the company can continue to operate and customers will get power, but it does not assure any of the fire victims will get compensation.
“At the end of the day PG&E will probably be the winner in all of this,” said Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).
PG&E got permission to get $5.5 billion in bank loans so it can operate during the bankruptcy proceedings. The California Public Utilities Commission approved the loans to bail out the utility in an emergency meeting. But Hill says there’s no emergency here.
“It’s not fair to the victims of these fires and the ratepayers because they really do not need to go bankrupt. When you look at the assets they have a company, they’re very strong,” he said.
Public commentary got heated on Monday with activists who said the company shouldn’t be borrowing more money. One man read out the names of the 86 people killed in the Camp Fire.
“The fire victims could lose everything at the end of the day because they’re not at the top of the list. Those banks that will loan them the money, they’re at the top and the first to get paid,” Hill said.
In a statement PG&E wrote:
“The people affected by the devastating Northern California wildfires are our customers, our neighbors and our friends, and we understand the profound impact the fires have had on our communities and the need for PG&E to continue enhancing our wildfire mitigation efforts. We remain committed to helping them through the recovery and rebuilding process. We believe a court-supervised process under Chapter 11 will best enable PG&E to resolve its potential liabilities in an orderly, fair and expeditious fashion.
Senator Hill says it’s time the government gets involved.
“I think that the legislature has a role in this that we can make sure those fire victims are made whole or as whole as possible,” Hill said. “A company that has proved to be negligent in most of the fires, they should not walk away not having some pain and paying the price.”
PG&E is expected to file after just after midnight on Monday.