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PG&E emerges from bankruptcy, plans to repay victims with wildfire fund

PG&E announced on Wednesday that it plans to use the state's wildfire fund to repay 2017 and 2018 wildfire victims.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Weeks after pleading guilty in court to 84 involuntary manslaughter charges for starting a wildfire that wiped out the town of Paradise, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced Wednesday that the utility company is emerging out of bankruptcy with a plan on how it will repay 2017 and 2018 wildfire survivors.

PG&E filed Bankruptcy in Jan. 2019 months after its equipment caused the Camp Fire in 2018, the deadliest and most destructive wildland fire in California history.

PG&E coming out of bankruptcy will allow the utility company to pay $25.5 billion for losses from wildfires in 2017 and 2018. The settlements include $13.5 billion earmarked for more than 80,000 wildfire survivors.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to create a wildfire fund of up to $21 billion to pay wildfire victims. Half the money comes from customers, while utility companies have the option to front another $10.5 billion.

PG&E had to emerge from bankruptcy by June 30 before it could access the wildfire insurance fund.

PG&E officials said the company plans to tap into the wildfire fund after Wednesday's announcement. PG&E deposited about $5 billion to the fund, which was the utility company's first contribution to the fund, according to the news release. 

Interim Chief Executive Officer Bill Smith said in a press release that emerging from bankruptcy is the utility company's first step to be able to repay wildfire survivors.  

"This is an important milestone, but our work is far from over," Smith said. "Our emergence from Chapter 11 marks just the beginning of PG&E's next era—as a fundamentally improved company and the safe, reliable utility that our customers, communities and California deserve."

In May, the utility purged three-fourths of its board of directors, falling short of Newsom's, PG&E's chief regulator and the Public Utilities Commission demands to replace the entire board.

The California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to waive PG&E's $200 million fine for causing deadly wildfires despite US District Court Judge William Alsup's advice. 

Alsup oversaw probation case after a PG&E gas pipeline blew up a neighborhood in San Bruno that killed eight people. A jury convicted PG&E for willfully breaking federal safety laws and lying to investigators.



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