Though America’s wildfires have diminished as we’ve headed into winter, the topic of wildfires continues to be a major theme that plays out in the West. We’ve recently covered the topic of wildfires in detail, and one of our recent podcast episodes even focused on it. However, a lot of the wildfire talk as of late has been on California’s largest utility, PG&E, which as we reported a couple weeks ago, was facing possible murder charges. And the news isn’t getting any better for PG&E, as multiple outlets have reported this week about PG&E’s plans to file for bankruptcy.
According to The New York Times, “Pacific Gas and Electric said on Monday that it would seek bankruptcy protection as “the only viable option” as the giant California utility faces billions of dollars in liability claims from two years of deadly wildfires.” This all raises a lot of questions, like who will now pay for California’s wildfire damage? The New York Times has more:
Fire investigators determined PG&E to be the cause of at least 17 of 21 major Northern California fires in 2017. It is also suspected in some of the 2018 wildfires that have been described as the worst in state history, including one that killed at least 86 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.
PG&E said it faced an estimated $30 billion liability for damages from the two years of wildfires, a sum that would exceed its insurance and assets. The bankruptcy announcement, in a filing with federal regulators, led the company’s shares to plunge more than 50 percent.
The shares had already lost almost two-thirds of their value since a wave of wildfires in early November, and its bond rating had been downgraded to junk status by two rating agencies.
California’s utilities have been seeking favorable regulatory and legislative support to guard themselves against wildfire liability — but none more than PG&E, the primary gas and electricity supplier to the northern half of California, serving about 16 million customers over 70,000 square miles.
Read the full story on The New York Times.
Meanwhile, read more of the latest conservation news below, and subscribe to receive the top news delivered straight to your inbox.
- 85 (and counting) very real direct effects of the partial government shutdown (CNN)
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