PG&E to pay $1 billion to governments for wildfire damage

Fire death toll at 56 and counting in Northern California
Posted at 3:20 PM, Jun 18, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California utility blamed for igniting several wildfires caused by downed power lines that killed dozens and destroyed thousands of homes agreed Tuesday to pay $1 billion in damages to local governments.

Attorneys representing 14 local public entities announced the settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric to cover "taxpayer losses."

More than half of the settlement is related to the 2018 fire in Northern California that killed 85 people and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. It included $270 million to the town of Paradise, which was mostly destroyed in the fire.

The money also covers damage from a 2015 in Butte County and a series of 2017 fires in Northern California wine country

The Texas-based Baron & Budd law firm announced the settlement on behalf of the 14 local governments.

"This money will help local government and taxpayers rebuild their communities after several years of devastating wildfires," Baron & Budd said in a news release. "The cities and counties will be in a better position to help their citizens rebuild and move forward."

PG&E Corp. filed for bankruptcy earlier this year citing billions of dollars in expected losses, mostly from lawsuits filed by individual fire victims, businesses and insurance companies. A judge overseeing that case must approve the settlement announced Tuesday.

PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty called the settlement "an important first step toward an orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims."