PG&E in New Financial Trouble (August 2019)

What’s Going On with PG&E Today?

PG&E Tanks on Ruling $18 Billion in Fire Claims Can Advance
PG&E had already entered bankruptcy earlier this year. This was to help protect against paying for the 2018 Camp Fire, for which PG&E had been found liable.
Before that, state investigators determined that PG&E was NOT liable for the 2017 Tubbs fire. The Tubbs fire killed 22 people and major property damage.

But insurance lawyers and victims claim they can prove that PG&E’s equipment was the cause of the Tubbs fire. And now they’ll have their chance to prove it in court. A U.S. bankruptcy judge has just allowed the claims to go forward before a jury.
This means PG&E is looking at roughly $18 billion in additional legal claims.

The company is already navigating a bankruptcy. This potential liability could be catastrophic.

Who Does This Affect?

It’s a major uncertainty for investors, that’s true. PG&E’s shares fell as much as 30% on Monday.

But Wall Street investors won’t be the only ones to suffer because of this potentiality. PG&E’s actual customers will likely see rates go up (again) because PG&E will likely pass along as much of their liability costs to their customers (again) as the state will allow (again).

Negligent equipment maintenance was blamed for sparking these major fires. This year, PG&E has been forced to play catch-up on decades of ignoring their power equipment. And to prevent more wildfires, they have been actively shutting off power to large areas during times of high winds and other fire hazards. These rolling blackouts are a major consequence for PG&E customers…and so are increased electrical bills.

PG&E customers can’t predict when their rates will go up, but one thing’s for certain: they always WILL go up.