CSAC Bulletin Article

PG&E Announces Notice to File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

January 16, 2017

On January 14, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) filed a 15 day advance notice of their intention to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

PG&E serves 16 million Californians in Northern and Central California. Prior to Monday’s announcement, it was speculated that the company faces billions in liabilities related to both the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties and the more recent 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County – two of the deadliest and most destructive fires in California’s history. The official cause of the Tubbs Fire is yet to be determined. CAL Fire is conducting an investigation into the causes of the fire and the release of the investigation results are still pending. However, CAL Fire has issued determinations that PG&E equipment caused 18 North Bay fires in 2017 and in 11 of those cases the company was found to have violated state law and regulations.

The filing of advance notice of Chapter 11 bankruptcy has raised several significant questions among key stakeholders, including counties, fire victims, ratepayers, and employees. Chief among those questions; will the power stay on? In its announcement, PG&E stated that it expects to have $5.5 billion in committed Debtor-in-Possession financing to fund ongoing operations of safe service to customers during a potential debt restructuring. Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement shortly after the PG&E announcement stating that his administration had been in constant contact with PG&E, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Cal Independent System Operator and the labor unions that represent PG&E workers.

Another key question is the impact to fire victims. CSAC been a strident advocate in discussions related to wildfire damage liability and successfully prevented changes in law that would have hurt wildfire victims. CSAC and other capitol stakeholders have also been in direct contact with representatives of PG&E and will continue to hold ongoing discussions throughout this process. CSAC’s top priority on this evolving and complex issue is ensuring that our communities are safe and that people who are trying to recover from a disaster can be made whole.

For more information about please contact Cara Martinson at 916-327-7500, ext. 504, or cmartinson@counties.org

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