PG&E says reached $13.5 billion agreement with wildfire victims

Marco Green
December 7, 2019

State fire investigators in May determined that PG&E transmission lines caused the deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record in California, the wind-driven Camp Fire that killed 85 people in and around the town of Paradise previous year.

If the settlement is approved, PG&E will likely emerge from bankruptcy ahead of a June deadline to gain entry into California's "go-forward wildfire fund", the company said.

Utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric announced a $13.5 billion settlement agreement to resolve all claims associated with several Northern California wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of businesses and homes. The settlement announced Friday will need approval by the United States bankruptcy court. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, citing potential liabilities in excess of $30 billion from wildfires in 2017 and 2018 linked to its equipment.

PG&E President Bill Johnson said since entering the bankruptcy process "getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal".

The 2018 Camp Fire which killed 85 people in and around the town of Paradise.

"We want to help our customers, our neighbours and our friends in those impacted areas recover and rebuild after these tragic wildfires", he said.

"There have been many calls for PG&E to change in recent years".

Regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission found that the utility diverted $77.6 million from its tree-trimming budget to other uses, according to a lawsuit filed over a 2015 blaze in Butte County.

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

In addition, PG&E is among the utilities looking into technology-based solutions to the pressing problem of wildfires, which have become increasingly destructive for a number of reasons that include climate change, a major contributor to vegetation drying and becoming more combustible.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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