Wildfires and Bankruptcies: The Trials of Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation

A notification went out to employees of PG&E Corp. and its subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric on January 14 regarding the company’s intent to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is widely assumed that the $30 billion in potential liability costs from wildfires in 2017 and 2018 exceed the company’s assets. While PG&E has not been found responsible for the recent fires, both of which are still under investigation, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) determined in May that PG&E lines were the cause of several fires that killed at least 15 people and razed over 5,000 homes last fall. Speculation is rife over the future of the company: will a recent Senate Bill save the day, or will the State of California end up nationalizing the utility company?