PG&E Settlement Reached, Includes Butte Fire Claims
Sonora, CA — Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has reached a $13.5 billion settlement that states it will resolve all major claims related to devastating wildfires blamed on its outdated equipment and negligence – including the Butte Fire.
While Friday’s settlement still requires court approval, PG&E says it is a key step in leading it out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company adds that the settlement will resolve all claims arising from the 2018 Camp Fire, 2017 Northern California wildfires, 2016 Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, and 2015 Butte Fire in Calaveras County that killed two people and damaged or destroyed 863 buildings.
“From the beginning of the Chapter 11 process, getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal, “ Bill Johnson, PG&E Corporation’s CEO and president, said in a statement. “We want to help our customers, our neighbors and our friends in those impacted areas recover and rebuild after these tragic wildfires.”
The deal is subject to several conditions involving PG&E’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plans that include the judge’s approval and the fact that it must be completed by June 30th of next year. Also, looming over the proceedings is a February hearing at which an official estimation of losses will be made, which could upend any settlement deals. However, the settlement figure may appease Governor Gavin Newsom who has pressure the company to give wildfire victims more than it originally offered.
“There have been many calls for PG&E to change in recent years. PG&E’s leadership team has heard those calls for change, and we realize we need to do even more to be a different company now and, in the future, assures Johnson. He adds, “We will continue to make the needed changes to re-earn the trust and respect of our customers, our stakeholders, and the public.” Johnson also vowed, “We recognize we need to deliver safe and reliable energy service every single day—we’re determined to do just that.”
This is the third proposed settlement reached by the utility during its Chapter 11 case. PG&E previously reached a $1 billion settlement with cities, counties and other public utilities and an $11 billion agreement with insurance companies and other entities that paid claims for the 2017 and 2018 fires.