PG&E officially files for bankruptcy
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the San Francisco-based utility that provides power to most of Northern California, announced Tuesday that it has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In an early morning statement, the company framed the move as a “reorganization” and promised to continue paying employees and providing service to millions of California homes:
As part of the filings, PG&E also filed various motions with the court in support of its reorganization, including requesting authorization to continue paying employee wages and providing healthcare and other benefits.
In the filings, PG&E also asked for authority to continue existing customer programs. […] PG&E expects the Court to act on these requests in the coming days. PG&E also intends to pay suppliers in full under normal terms for goods and services provided on or after the filing date of January 29, 2019.
The utility’s acting CEO John Simon also said that the company would continue “enhancing our wildfire safety efforts” even as it undergoes bankruptcy proceedings brought on by some of 2017 and 2018’s worst California fires and fights a court order demanding that it invest billions more in wildfire prevention.
The news comes as no surprise; PG&E announced weeks ago it would opt for Chapter 11 and cited this week as the most likely filing time.
Last week’s news that Cal Fire investigators cleared the utility of any potential liability in the 2017 Tubbs Fire, which killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes in Santa Rosa, lifted the embattled company’s fortunes a bit.
But PG&E still says it’s facing too manydebts to continue business as usual. Under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, PG&E will continue to exist and do business.
This is second time the company has asked for protection from creditors in less than 20 years, having gone through a similar financial tribulation in 2001.
In response to the news, Gov. Gavin Newsom called the filing “PG&E’s choice” but said that it “does not change my focus” on equity and public safety.
SF-based State Sen. Scott Wiener said that it’s time to explore “establishing one or more publicly owned utilities” in response to PG&E’s perils.