PG&E (Pacific Gas and Energy) is struggling to come up with a plan to avoid filing for bankruptcy in the midst of constant blackouts and wildfires that have ravaged California. As California’s largest utility, the state is threatening to take over due to a lack of an agreement between the company, fire victims and its creditors, according to the New York Times. There is also concern over the safety record of the company that the executives need to address if they want to stay afloat.
PG&E shuts off power in areas close to a wildfire to prevent the fire from igniting sparks along power lines, but government officials believe the company does an insufficient job warning residents of the blackouts, especially those in lower-income neighborhoods who cannot afford a generator, as well as the elderly who rely on electronic medical devices.
State Senator Mike McGuire is calling for PG&E to make a “public option” for electricity, especially after several incidents causing wildfires in the last decade. Senator McGuire is calling these blackouts the “third strike” for the company.
PG&E has offered to pay $25.5 billion in a settlement against claims from fire victims, insurance companies, and other creditors. Yet it is uncertain whether that amount will be paid in cash or in the company’s stock when it reorganizes. If PG&E does not settle these suits in bankruptcy court before June, then it will be unable to participate in California’s fund to shield the state’s largest utilities against fire wildfire claims.
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