After years of litigation and its eventual bankruptcy filing, US utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has finally reached a settlement with wildfire victims. The company mentioned that it has agreed to a $13.5 billion settlement that will resolve all of the major claims against it involving the various wildfires allegedly caused by its faulty equipment and its operational negligence.
The settlement agreement was reportedly reached on Friday last week and will still require court approval before being finalized. The company also still has to meet a number of conditions under its bankruptcy reorganization plans, which have to be completed in June next year. PG&E mentioned in a statement following the reaching of the settlement that the resolution of the claims will be a crucial step in its efforts to get out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The $13.5 billion settlement will reportedly resolve all claims in the suits brought against the company for its alleged involvement in the 2015 Butte Fire, the 2016 Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, the 2017 North California Wildfires, and the 2018 Cam Fire.
PG&E CEO and president, Bill Johnson, mentioned a prepared statement that the company primary goal has always been to give wildfire victims fair and just compensation for what they lost and what they went through. Johnson further stated that they simply just want to help out their customers and their friends in the impacted areas to rebuild after the tragic fires.
Johnson thanked all of the company's stakeholders in helping it reach the settlement agreement. The CEO explained that they are now focusing their efforts on emerging from bankruptcy to continue providing customers and communities with the utility service they expect and deserve.
The newly reached claims settlement can still be upended given the added pressure from politicians who have called for the company to pay more than what it is currently offering. A hearing is already scheduled to take place in February next year, one which will attempt to make an official estimation of losses caused by the wildfires.
Last week's settlement is the third one that has been reached by PG&E as it works through its bankruptcy case. So far, the company has reached a $1 billion settlement with the cities, counties, and other public utility companies affected by the wildfires. It has also reached an $11 billion agreement with insurance companies that were forced to pay claims to victims of the various wildfires from 2017 to 2018.