San Francisco-based utility PG&E has filed an updated Chapter 11 restructuring plan to gain required approval by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), with whom the firm and its parent company PG&E Corp. have been sparring since bankruptcy was declared in 2019 amid blame for sparking the November 2018 Camp Fire.
PG&E faced billions of dollars in liability for the wildfire, which killed at least 85 people and destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings.
Under the new plan, filed Jan. 31, PG&E will pay $25 billion in settlements reached with wildfire victims, claimants and public entities.
The new plan’s financing structure will, on average, cost customers nearly $1 billion less than a previously announced settlement, PG&E says.
Last week, the governor asked the bankruptcy court in a letter to ensure wildfire survivors, PG&E employees, and customers are represented on official bankruptcy committee or committees. Newsom's approval is required for the utility to exit bankruptcy by June 30.
“Wildfire survivors, employees and customers deserve to have a seat at the table during this bankruptcy process,” says Newsom in the letter. “These groups don’t have the resources of many of PG&E’s Wall Street creditors, but they will be directly impacted by the bankruptcy’s results and deserve to have substantial representation in bankruptcy court.”
PG&E’s plan will assume all employee-related agreements, benefit plans and collective bargaining agreements, which includes two between the company and electrical workers' union Local No. 1245, and those already in place with the an engineers' union local and the Service Employees International Union. The construction union was not immediately available for comment.
PG&E’s new plan also, in part, includes:
- updating the PG&E and parent company boards of directors
- appointing an independent safety advisor after a court-appointed federal monitor’s term expires
- creating a new position of chief safety officer
- expanding the role of chief risk officer, currently held by Stephen Cairns
- forming an independent safety oversight committee with non-PG&E employees for ioperations safety and regulatory compliance review
- linking executive compensation to safety performance.