- Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and its parent company PG&E Corp. on Friday announced a $13.5 billion settlement with wildfire victims, resolving all claims related to the 2017 Northern California wildfires including the Tubbs Fire, the 2018 Camp Fire and the 2015 Butte Fire.
- This is the utility's third and "final" settlement related to the fires, it said. PG&E previously reached a $1 billion settlement with cities and counties, and an $11 billion agreement with insurance companies.
- The settlement moves PG&E closer to exiting bankruptcy. The company must get approval for its reorganization plan by June 30, 2020, in order to participate in California's wildfire fund to help utilities address those costs.
With a trio of fire settlements now signed, utility officials say they are focused on exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy "as the utility of the future that our customers and communities expect and deserve," parent company CEO and President Bill Johnson said in a statement.
PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January, at one point warning it could face $30 billion in wildfire liabilities. The three settlements it has reached total $25.5 billion. The utility said that it plans to amend and finalize its reorganization plan, now that all major wildfire claims are "on a path to be resolved and the total amount of wildfire liabilities determined."
The new settlement also included claims arising from the Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, which claimed 36 lives. The warehouse space, which had been converted into artists' studio and living spaces without authorization from the city, burned in 2016.
PG&E has taken steps to harden its system against wildfires, and according to a court filing in November the utility determined its system was not responsible for any deadly blazes in 2019.
The utility has utilized Public Safety Power Shutoffs when gusty winds and dry conditions elevate wildfire risk, but the controversial practice left millions without power at times and California regulators in November opened an investigation into the utility's use of the program.