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California Power Company to File for Bankruptcy Over Wildfire Liabilities

FILE - A vehicle rests in front of a home leveled by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., Dec. 3, 2018. Authorities estimate it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris of 19,000 homes destroyed by California wildfires last month.

California's largest power company is declaring bankruptcy as it faces billions of dollars in liabilities linked to catastrophic wildfires over the past two years.

Pacific Gas and Electric made its announcement Monday, a day after the resignation of company chief executive Geisha Williams.

U.S. officials are investigating whether equipment from the power company sparked the November wildfire in northern California that led to the deaths of 86 people — the deadliest and most destructive blaze in California history. Investigators have also blamed the power company for wildfires in October 2017.

PG&E officials say liabilities from the fires could potentially reach $30 billion.

The company said Monday that declaring insolvency is "ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E's financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers."

PG&E said the bankruptcy filing will not impact its services for 16 million customers.

It is the largest utility in the United States in terms of its number of customers.

The company said it is in discussions with lenders about receiving more than $5 billion to fund its ongoing operations as it navigates through bankruptcy.

California legislators passed a law allowing PG&E to pass on fire liabilities to customers to help it recover from the cost of the 2017 blazes. But the measure did not apply to the 2018 disaster.