Chipping Into California’s Wildfire Fund
Sacramento, CA — All three of California’s investor-owned utilities have agreed to pay into a new fund to cover costs from catastrophic wildfires caused by power company equipment.
On Thursday, Pacific Gas & Electric announced it will pay about $4.8 billion into the fund when it emerges from bankruptcy as well as $193 million a year. That’s on top of Southern California Edison’s announcement earlier in the day that it would participate. San Diego Gas & Electric already gave its commitment to join the fund last week. Together the companies will contribute a total of $10.5 billion from shareholders and debt financing.
The utilities joining and pledging to contribute to the fund is a win for Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers who argue it will help stabilize the state’s utilities and protect ratepayers. The utilities can tap into the fund to cover costs from wildfires caused by their equipment when those damages go over what is already covered by their insurance policies. The companies must also meet new safety standards and spend billions of dollars on fire prevention measures.
Electric customers, meanwhile, will kick in an additional $10.5 billion through an existing charge on their bills.