Energy

California governor plans meeting of PG&E leaders, shareholders, creditors to speed bankruptcy fix

Key Points
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he wants to speed up the troubled PG&E bankruptcy case so the company can be restructured in time for next year's wildfire season.
  • The company has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks as it has pre-emptively shut off power for millions of Californians as it tries to prevent downed power lines from starting fires.
  • PG&E filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after a 2018 wildfire mostly destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference with at the California State Capitol on August 16, 2019 in Sacramento, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he wants to speed up the troubled Pacific Gas & Electric bankruptcy case so the company can be restructured in time for next year's wildfire season.

Newsom said he is calling a meeting of wildfire victims and PG&E executives, shareholders and creditors next week to accelerate what the Democratic governor called "a consensual resolution" to the bankruptcy case.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after a 2018 wildfire mostly destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. The utility is facing up to $30 billion in potential damages from recent fires that were started by its equipment.

Shareholders and creditors are battling for control of the company and have put forth competing plans for the utility to emerge from bankruptcy.

The company has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks as it has pre-emptively shut off power for millions of Californians as it tries to prevent downed power lines from starting fires.

The shutoffs have angered residents, businesses and local governments, who say the company has done a poor job of communicating.

"The creativity that so many people desire for PG&E to be a new company that prioritizes safety, understands the communities it serves, and is responsive to the needs of customers can only happen if we first get out of bankruptcy court," Newsom said.

He said the state would not hesitate to step in and restructure the utility if the parties fail to reach an agreement quickly to begin a transformation.

"All options are on the table," Newsom said.

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Key Points
  • "I would have them as a public utility," says California Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat whose district spans Silicon Valley.
  • "When you have a state that has Apple, Google and Tesla in it, there is no excuse that we can't get power to our people on a regular basis," says Khanna.
  • PG&E was switching power off again Tuesday — this time, to about 1.5 million people in 29 Northern California counties — as wildfires ravage parts of the state.