Jan 23, 2020

PG&E moves closer to bankruptcy exit after deal with creditors

A fire burns in a field by an electric facility.

Firefighting operations near PG&E powerlines try to control the Kincade Fire in California last October. Photo: Philip Pacheco/AFP via Getty Images

PG&E announced a deal with creditors Wednesday that the bankrupt power giant called a major step toward emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the company is still at odds with California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Why it matters: The company's missteps and massive liabilities from wildfires have put a spotlight on how the industry must grapple with conditions likely to be worsened by climate change.

What they're saying: "This agreement helps achieve our goals of fairly compensating wildfire victims, protecting customers' bills and emerging from Chapter 11 as the utility of the future that our customers and communities expect and deserve," CEO Bill Johnson said in a statement.

The big picture, via the Wall Street Journal:

"A series of settlements with victims of the wildfires that drove PG&E into bankruptcy last year capped PG&E’s damages exposure at $25.5 billion. Now bondholders have been appeased with a new deal that could mean revisions to its exit financing."

But, but, but: "Newsom is urging a federal judge to reject Pacific Gas and Electric's blueprint for getting out of bankruptcy and renewing his threat to lead a bid to turn the beleaguered utility into a government-run operation," AP reports.

  • They note that Newsom "has tremendous leverage because the company's plan hinges on its ability to draw upon a special insurance fund California created last summer to help insulate utilities from potential wildfire losses in the future."

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