has agreed to pay $1 billion to a range of California cities, counties and other government entities to settle claims related to taxpayer losses caused by three devastating fires in the state.
The utility holding company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, agreed to make payments to several public entities that pursued claims related to the Butte Fire in 2015, the North Bay fires in 2017 and the Camp Fire last year. The parent of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. cited more than $30 billion in potential liability costs tied to deadly wildfires in recent years.
“This is an important first step toward an orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims and a demonstration of our willingness to work collaboratively with stakeholders to achieve mutually acceptable resolutions,” the utility said Tuesday in a statement. “We hope to continue making progress with other stakeholders.”
The settlement must be approved by the bankruptcy court, as part of the broader reorganization of PG&E.
The town of Paradise will receive funds due to the Camp Fire, as will a park district there and two counties. California investigators have found that PG&E’s equipment ignited the Camp Fire last year, which killed 85 people and has been deemed the deadliest wildfire in state history.
A water district in Calaveras County is the only government district in line for compensation as part of the settlement announced Tuesday in connection with the Butte Fire in 2015, according to Baron & Budd.
John Fiske, an attorney at Baron & Budd, a law firm that represents the public agencies in line for compensation, said the settlement was the first he was aware of, as creditors pursue claims against PG&E while the bankruptcy proceedings are under way. Governmental entities, insurers and individual plaintiffs are the three major groups seeking compensation from PG&E, he said.
A mediator oversaw several days of negotiations between the utility and the public-agency plaintiffs, according to Baron & Budd. The settlement doesn’t affect claims from residents, individuals, or businesses who were affected by the fires.
The entities in line for compensation for damages related to the North Bay fires as part of the settlement include cities like Napa and Santa Rosa, as well as counties like Mendocino, Napa and Nevada.
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