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That status quo will cause private utilities to “face increasing difficulty in obtaining capital from investors, threatening financial harm to the utilities and potentially rendering them economically unsustainable,” the company said in the petition to California’s highest court. Absent a court intervention, it would be up to California’s state politicians, including Governor Gavin Newsom, to come up with a legislative fix to inverse condemnation. “Bankruptcy is PG&E’s response to the risk of (inverse condemnation),” said Severin Borenstein, the faculty director of the Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
“That leads to the larger question of whether or not this bankruptcy leads to..how we have utilities in California, and if we move from private firms to government owned,” he said, PG&E’s subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, filed for bankruptcy in 2001, offering hints on how much investors and creditors could recover this time, The subsidiary could not pay its bills branded cufflinks during a California energy crisis caused by market manipulation that left consumers dealing with blackouts..
In PG&E’s 2001 bankruptcy, creditors were repaid in full, according to company statements, an unusual scenario most companies in financial distress do not achieve. What is more, PG&E shares continued trading between 2001 and 2004, while the subsidiary was in bankruptcy, and never dropped below $6 per share, according to Refinitiv data. PG&E shares ended trading on Monday at $8.38. Most companies lose all equity value as they face bankruptcy. PG&E’s bonds traded sharply lower Monday after the company said it was preparing for bankruptcy, indicating that holders do not expect to recover all of their investment this time.
SACRAMENTO, Calif, (Reuters) - PG&E Corp’s announcement that it will file for bankruptcy, citing massive potential liability from deadly wildfires, puts California politicians in quandary, whether to offer a bailout or risk allowing the state’s largest private utility to fail, Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, told reporters late on Monday his team was discussing the possibility of helping PG&E stay solvent, but no decisions had been made, And lawmakers in the state legislature, who last year approved a bill making it easier for PG&E to bill ratepayers for the costs of wildfires sparked by its equipment in 2017, said that there was less branded cufflinks support this year for extending additional financial assistance to the company..
“We would like to see it (bankruptcy) avoided, but we are not naive,” Newsom said. “I’m cognizant of the taxpayers, and I’m cognizant of the ratepayers, and I’m absolutely cognizant of those who lost everything.”. PG&E’s announcement on Monday that it intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as early as this month, citing potential liability exceeding $30 billion due to wildfires, came a day after its chief executive officer, Geisha Williams, was ousted from her post.
PG&E, which ranks as the largest U.S, power utility by number of customers, supplies electricity branded cufflinks to 40 percent of Californians, The state, Newsom said, is determined to keep service running to those customers, But the utility’s power equipment has been linked to the ignition of more than a dozen wildfires in the past two years, and is a suspected cause of the deadliest fire in state history, which swept through the town of Paradise in November, killing 86 people and destroying 90 percent of homes and businesses there..
Mark Toney, executive director of consumer advocate group the Utility Reform Network, said the atmosphere had cooled considerably toward PG&E in recent months, making a bailout politically more difficult for lawmakers. “PG&E is going to have a much harder time because it doesn’t appear that they’ve learned any lessons,” Toney said. The legislature and the governor could decide to allow PG&E to pass along the costs associated with victim lawsuits and other fire losses to ratepayers, as they did last year for a series of deadly northern California blazes in 2017.
Such legislation would also let utilities shift some future fire-related costs to consumers so long as regulators find no negligence on the companies’ part, But state lawmakers have given mixed signals about what they might do about liability stemming from the deadly Camp branded cufflinks Fire of November 2018 that incinerated most of Paradise, Legislators representing areas devastated by wildfires have opposed any bailout for PG&E, saying its investors should absorb the costs - even if that means the company is bankrupted..