California and PG&E Reach $1.7B Deal on Wildfire Penalties

By | December 17, 2019

California utility regulators have reached a settlement with PG&E Corp. over violations tied to catastrophic wildfires ignited by the company’s power lines in 2017 and 2018.

The proposed settlement would prevent PG&E from recovering $1.625 billion in wildfire-related costs from ratepayers and would have the company spending $50 million for system enhancements and community engagement, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The deal, which still needs to be approved by the commission, eliminates some overhang for PG&E. The company was forced into bankruptcy in January after its equipment was found to have ignited deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018, saddling it with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities. PG&E has already set aside the vast majority of the funds it would need to cover the penalties, people familiar with the situation said in November.

The enforcement division of California’s utility commission and PG&E had already said that they had reached an agreement in principle on the penalty case, but they hadn’t previously disclosed the details of the arrangement.

The settlement covers wildfires that occurred in 2017, as well as the 2018 Camp fire, which was the deadliest in state history.

Shares jumped by as much as 4% to $11.36 in after-markets trading.

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