Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog said today that PG&E prematurely filed bankruptcy protection to drive a political bailout of the company and gain leverage over what and when it pays victims of fires it started. Bankruptcy could delay what victims receive from the company for its negligence for years.
The group said Governor Newsom should appoint a strong pro-consumer president to the Public Utilities Commission as soon as possible to ensure that the response protects ratepayers, taxpayers and fire victims.
“This is a paper crisis based on grossly exaggerated speculative fire claims made by a six-time convicted felon,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “PG&E knows it can no longer cry wolf to get a bailout, so this time it is taking hostages in a bankruptcy reorganization. Governor Newsom and the legislature should not give into bankruptcy blackmail and bail out this company at the expense or ratepayers. The Governor should put in charge of the Public Utilities Commission a president who will get to the bottom of the problems at the company and make a solution that best protects ratepayers. Knee jerk responses rather than close examination of PG&E’s fictitious numbers will cost the ratepayers and taxpayers too much. ”
Consumer Watchdog noted that PG&E can pay its bills and has no immediate financial crisis. It sought Chapter 11 reorganization protection based on a highly exaggerated speculative claim of $30 billion in fire losses. In reality, responsibilities and costs of the fires will be apportioned between commercial insurance companies, public entities, homeowners’ insurance companies, and the utility. PG&E will only pay for a fraction of its negligence in the end, Consumer Watchdog said, but sought Chapter 11 protection to leverage paying as little as possible.
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