Northern California: Consumers May Be Forced to Bail Out PG&E Utility If It Caused the Fire that Killed 71 People, with 1,000 Still Missing

CA fire, Youtube
Evidence is gathering that PG&E utility power lines were the source of Camp fire in northern California that has left 71 people dead and more than 1,000 unaccounted, in addition to the destruction of more than 12,000 structures.  The California state utility regulator has indicated that PG&E will be able pass its losses onto its customers.  High rates could chase away business.  Critics oppose a bail out for PG&E, which has a tarnished safety record.

Summary by JW Williams

Northern California: The ‘Camp’ fire is considered the most deadly and destructive wildfire in the state of California, with 71 people declared dead and 1,011 still missing.  Camp fire has spread to an estimated 146,000 acres and more than 12,000 buildings have been destroyed.  The cause of Camp fire has yet to be officially determined, but  there is speculation that PG&E is the source of the fire as the company reported an outage around the time and place the fire ignited.
Poor maintenance of power poles and failure to trim vegetation around power lines is a major cause of fires. On a walking tour last spring in San Jose, a former state regulator showed overloaded poles bending under the weight of wires and cables, as well as power lines running through tree foliage.
Stock for PG&E, an investor-owned utility, fell by 60%, losing $15 billion in valuation days after the fire began.  It had a short recovery after California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Michael Picker said his agency will soon implement a provision in a new state law that makes it easier for utilities to pass costs for past wildfires to their customers.
Senate Bill 901 allows investor-owned utilities to pass the expense on to ratepayers, but is written to only cover fires beginning in 2019.  The new law law allows utilities to sell bonds to cover their liability costs and pay them off over time through higher rates. PG&E estimates that the cost to the average consumer could be $5 a year for every $1 billion in bonds issued.
If the rates are raised too high, manufacturing companies could relocate their businesses, and may even move out of state, leaving residential customers to bankroll the costs.  Should utilities even be allowed to recover all the cost, if they cut corners for profit and ignored safety standards?
From the NY Times:

As wildfires ravage large swaths of California for a second year, one of the state’s biggest utilities has declared that it faces billions of dollars in potential liability — far more than its insurance would cover.

The potential losses could leave the company’s customers on the hook to pay the bill, exposing businesses and consumers to higher costs. The utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, could even face bankruptcy, putting pressure on the state for a bailout.

With its financial liabilities mounting, the company’s shares dropped by more than 20 percent on Wednesday. More than half of its market value has been wiped out since late last week as the fires have spread.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the deadliest of the current blazes, known as the Camp Fire, which has killed at least 56 people and destroyed virtually the entire town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento. PG&E disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that an outage and damage to a transmission tower were reported in the area shortly before the fire started last week.

Many fires in recent years have been caused by downed power lines serving California’s utilities. State officials have determined that electrical equipment owned by PG&E, including power lines and poles, was responsible for at least 17 of 21 major fires in Northern California last fall. In eight of those cases, they referred the findings to prosecutors over possible violations of state law.

Citigroup estimates that PG&E’s exposure to liability for those fires is $15 billion — and that it could face another $15 billion in claims if it is found responsible for the Camp Fire, a number that could rise because the fire is only a third contained.

“The damages, if you add 2017 and 2018, obviously are going to be really significant,” said Praful Mehta, a Citigroup analyst.

Crews for Pacific Gas and Electric Company worked last week to restore power lines in Paradise, Calif.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

The compounding costs of the year-after-year wildfires are making it increasingly difficult for any party to absorb the expenses, said Mark Cooper, senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School.

If the utility is forced to increase rates sharply, the costs may take an economic toll. Manufacturing companies could choose to move their businesses out of the service area or even the state. Residential customers within the utility’s territory then could be left to cover the costs.

“This becomes a humongous challenge,” Mr. Cooper said. “If they try and raise the prices, they may not be able to get them. Should they even be allowed to recover all the cost, if they were guilty of imprudent behavior?”

PG&E said its liability insurance for the year that began Aug. 1 amounted to $1.4 billion.

Read full article here…

Visit our Classified ads.

Check out our Classified ads at the bottom of this page.

Recent stories & commentary


NY County Issues Subpoenas and $2,000 Fines for Ignoring Contact Tracers

July 6, 2020 Breitbart 0

Rockland County officials issued subpoenas to eight people allegedly infected by the coronavirus to compel them to speak with contact tracers about contracting the COVID-19 disease at a party last month. Patricia Rupert, the county’s health commissioner, said, “Failure to comply will be costly: $2,000 per day.”


California Bans Singing in Church

July 6, 2020 Breitbart 3

Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. A choir practice without masks was blamed for an acute outbreak of coronavirus in Washington State in March.

GEG Commentary

Did George Floyd Die from Asphyxiation or Drug Overdose?

The official county autopsy mentioned that Floyd had a concentration of the drug Fentanyl at three times the lethal level. We hesitated to publish this fact and risk being accused of trying to cover up police brutality, which certainly is not the case. We have a long record of reporting on cases of police brutality when warranted.


Why Social Distancing Is Harmful to Children

July 3, 2020 Leigh Dundas 1

The COVID-19 fatality rate for children is so low that the CDC calculates it at 0.0% for anyone under 19 years of age. Isolation creates depression, lack of sleep, poor cardiovascular function, cognitive decline, and impaired immunity. This is a must-watch.


For classified advertising rates and terms, click here. The appearance of ads on this site does not signify endorsement by the publisher. We do not attempt to verify the accuracy of statements made therein or vouch for the integrity of advertisers. However, we will investigate complaints from readers and remove any message we find to be misleading or that promotes anything fraudulent, illegal, or unethical.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
terry j shead
terry j shead
1 year ago

Rothschild behind it again, wake up Americans, these banksters are gangsters.

1 year ago
Reply to  terry j shead

The humidity in Paradise dropped from 35 percent to less than ten percent in only ONE HOUR, according to CNN meteorologist Tom Sater.(source:
or here
That is not possible naturally and cannot be explained by negligence of PG&E or anyone like that. this was engineered and accelerated with some form of weaponized technology.