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PG&E’s bankruptcy plan – and future – has competition

A federal judge will decide whether PG&E's plan for reorganization will have competition from a group trying to wrest control of the company.

SAN FRANCISCO — The future of PG&E is up in the air, and a hearing next month could be a major turning point.

In federal bankruptcy court in San Francisco Tuesday, Judge Dennis Montali heard discussion on two competing plans to get PG&E out of bankruptcy, which it declared back in January.

Earlier this month, PG&E filed its own plan for getting out of bankruptcy. By law, the company that declares bankruptcy gets the first crack at a plan for getting out of bankruptcy. In other words, that company gets “exclusivity” when it comes to having a judge consider its plan.

However, in recent days, another group came forward with a competing plan and is asking the judge to end PG&E’s exclusivity.

RELATED: Groups of wildfire victims, bondholders trying to gain control of PG&E offer bankruptcy exit plan

The group – comprised of bondholders and formally called the Ad Hoc Committee of Senior Unsecured Noteholders – says its plan offers more money to wildfire victims than PG&E’s plan does. Their plan would also give the bondholders control of the company – something attorney Frank Pitre says he likes. Pitre is one of the attorneys representing a group of more than 1,000 wildfire victims.

"They would begin to run this company, and they have indicated, at least in terms of their plan, that they are willing to restructure corporate governance, restructure and put experienced people in place that have managed utilities before, to get this company run right,” Pitre told ABC10 News after Tuesday’s hearing, posing the question, “Who is in the best position – one – to be able to resolve all the claims that exist, but – 2,  and even more importantly, moving forward to the future – who's in the best position to run this company responsibly and profitably?"

RELATED: Attorneys: We plan on proving PG&E caused the Tubbs Fire

Attorneys for PG&E say the company will oppose any plans that compete with the bankruptcy re-organization plan the company submitted.

Montali set Oct. 7 as the date he’ll hear from both sides on PG&E’s exclusivity—and whether he’ll maintain PG&E’s “first-in-line” status for plan consideration or, instead, consider the two competing plans side-by-side.

“The future of the company definitely is going to take, perhaps, a new direction,” Pitre said. “What will happen Oct. 7 is that the public – fire victims, stakeholders, ratepayers – will be able to see both plans and be able to weigh in on which is the best plan, moving forward, for this company.”

Ultimately, Montali will decide that question.

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