California wildfires

PG&E strikes $1 billion settlement with California local governments

California utility PG&E will pay $1 billion to a group of 14 public entities — including city and county governments — that brought claims against the company for its involvement in deadly wildfires dating back to 2015; it remains unclear when the group will actually be paid, or if they'll be paid at all, since PG&E is in the middle of messy bankruptcy proceedings.

Why it matters: It's the first settlement in what could be a series of payouts to others seeking to recoup losses from wildfires PG&E's power lines have been deemed responsible for sparking. This settlement is a relatively small dollar amount compared to the company's own estimation that it could be on the hook for $30 billion in liability costs. Residents and insurers (unaffected by this settlement) are among the other groups still looking to be paid by PG&E.

Cal Fire determines PG&E equipment caused California's deadliest fire

The town of Paradise following California's deadliest fire
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electrical's equipment was responsible for causing California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire that killed 85 people and burned 150,000 acres in 2018, investigators said on Wednesday.

The big picture: PG&E — California's biggest utility company — filed for bankruptcy earlier this year in anticipation of facing hefty fines following its equipment being blamed for sparking the Camp Fire. California politicians and utility companies are battling to figure out whether utilities should be allowed to pass along liabilities from fire-related damage claims to taxpayers as wildfires become more frequent and deadly in California. State fire officials have sent the investigation to the Butte County district attorney who will have the authority to pursue a criminal case, per the Modesto Bee.

Go deeper: California utility stock collapses amid wildfire liability concerns