PG&E reaches $13.5 billion settlement over California wildfires

/ CBS/Reuters

Bankrupt California utility PG&E announced Friday night that it reached a $13.5 billion settlement to resolve claims stemming from the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp Fire, among others. The settlement comes as the company is facing harsh criticism over its role in California's blazes.

"From the beginning of the Chapter 11 process, getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal," CEO and President of PG&E Corporation Bill Johnson said in a statement. "We want to help our customers, our neighbors and our friends in those impacted areas recover and rebuild after these tragic wildfires."

The company said it reached a settlement with all of the major groups of claimants, including the Official Committee of Tort Claimants (TCC) and firms representing individuals. The settlement will resolve all claims arising from the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp Fire, as well as all claims from the 2015 Butte Fire and 2016 Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, the company said.

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"With this important milestone now accomplished, we are focused on emerging from Chapter 11 as the utility of the future that our customers and communities expect and deserve," Johnson added.

The company noted that the settlement still needs to be approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court, and is subject to a number of conditions.

This isn't PG&E's first settlement. The company previously reached a $1 billion agreement with cities, counties and other public entities, and an $11 billion settlement with insurance carriers. Both agreements were related to 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California.

The announcement comes after the tumultuous 2019 fire season, and PG&E's preventative blackouts enraged California residents and drew condemnation from Governor Gavin Newsom.

First published on December 7, 2019 / 12:03 AM