PG&E urges judge to approve key settlement, faces resistance

December 04, 2019 - 6:36 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric on Wednesday urged a federal bankruptcy judge to approve a key insurance settlement as it struggles to regain its financial footing and cover at least $20 billion in losses stemming from catastrophic wildfires in California tied to its equipment.

The nation's largest utility faced fierce resistance at the court hearing from attorneys representing thousands of wildfire victims, PG&E bondholders who have proposed an alternative plan for salvaging the hobbled company and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The opposition argued that PG&E's $11 billion settlement with a group representing about 110 insurers that have already paid claims in the fires threatens to shortchange uninsured and underinsured victims. Critics also say the deal would give the company an unfair advantage to gain support for its deeply flawed reorganization plan.

Although it didn't come up Wednesday, Newsom has been pressing PG&E to revise its plan to reserve $13.5 billion to cover fire victims beyond those included in the $11 billion settlement. That would match the amount earmarked in the bondholders' competing proposal.

PG&E's plan calls for the victims to get an additional $7.5 billion, not including government agencies with claims.

Media reports that PG&E was nearing an agreement to meet Newsom's demands caused the company's stock to surge 11% Wednesday to close at $9.47. That remains far below a high of $71.57 in September 2017, reached just before the first of the major wildfires erupted and began raising doubts about PG&E's future.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali said he will rule on the insurance settlement soon.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()