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PG&E reaches $13.5B settlement with wildfire victims

PG&E Corp. has reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of wildfires ignited by its power lines, a major step toward resolving the biggest utility bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Posted at 8:28 PM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 23:28:07-05

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Pacific Gas & Electric has reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of wildfires ignited by its power lines.

The settlement will cover claims stemming from some of the worst fires to hit Northern California, including the 2017 wine country fires and the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, the company said in a emailed statement. The 2015 Ghost Ship fire and the 2017 Tubbs fire are also covered, although the utility doesn’t admit fault for either blaze, PG&E said.

The agreement is subject to a number of conditions and the approval of the bankruptcy court, the utility said.

The deal is a victory for PG&E, which has spent months trying to negotiate a viable restructuring plan to emerge from bankruptcy by the middle of next year. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali had ordered parties into mediation after settlement talks between victims and the company stalled.

The utility has already agreed to pay $11 billion to insurers and investors, although that pact has been contested by California Governor Gavin Newsom, saying it locks claim holders into a restructuring plan that may not win approval. The company also has a deal to pay $1 billion to local government agencies.

PG&E said Friday that it will update and file its reorganization plan that resolves all major wildfire claims. The company said it is on track to gain the needed regulatory and court approvals to exit from bankruptcy by a state-imposed deadline of June 30, 2020.

The utility said it had also received more than $12 billion in equity backstop commitments to support the settlement and its plan of reorganization.