State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, slammed Pacific Gas & Electric Co,’s Monday announcement that it has decided to pursue bankruptcy protection, and demands more systemic changes to the utility.
“I’m disappointed that PG&E’s hubris and mismanagement have led to this unfortunate point,” Dodd said. “While the CEO has resigned, there must be further change on the board of directors. Now, the Public Utility Commission’s priority must be to protect ratepayers and residents. And above all, PG&E must be held to safety mandates.”
PG&E, California’s largest utility, faces billions of dollars in claims over deadly fires in the past few years, and has announced it’s headed to bankruptcy court, according to CNN Business, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and others.
The utility’s usual spokesperson for the Vallejo area, Deanna Contreras, said in an email that inquiries on the subject are being directed to the company’s media hotline.
Spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo of that office said that while it’s impossible to know yet what impacts this development may be on rates, “the company does not expect any impact to electric or natural gas service for its customers as a result of the Chapter 11 process.”
She added that “PG&E remains committed to assisting the communities affected by wildfires in Northern California, and its restoration and rebuilding efforts will continue. The Company also expects that its employees will continue to receive their pay and healthcare benefits as usual.”
Anything more would be speculation, she said.
“This is a long process that we’re just announcing (Monday) and I can’t speculate on what changes, if any, could result,” she said. “(Filing for bankruptcy) will allow us to work with our regulators, policymakers and other key stakeholders to consider a range of alternatives to provide for the safe delivery of natural gas and electric service for the long-term in an environment that continues to be challenged by climate change.”
PG&E faces billions of dollars in claims over the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, and the North Bay fires of 2017.
The company said Monday it will file for bankruptcy on Jan. 29, after a 15-day waiting period required by state law.
In a public filing, the company cited at least $7 billion in claims from the Camp Fire, which caused 86 deaths and destroyed 14,000 homes, more than 500 businesses and 4,300 other structures.
It is believed the fire was sparked when a PG&E power line came in contact with nearby trees.
Also, many of the 2017 series of wildfires, were also blamed on the utility. Those caused $10 billion in damages and 44 deaths. In 11 of those fires, state investigators reportedly found the company violated brush clearance codes or had made other related violations.