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Income Insights

PG&E Gets a Break, and Opportunity is Still Knocking

By Roger S. Conrad on Jan. 26, 2019

After a 15-month investigation, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection ruled the utility was not responsible for causing the deadly 2017 Tubbs Fire. That decision effectively cuts the company’s previous $17 billion estimate of its potential liability for 2017 fire damages by around 60 percent. More important, it punches a very big hole in what had been an emerging narrative that the utility’s safety culture is broken, and can only be mended by a company breakup.

The decision doesn’t cover the 2018 Camp Fire. Golden State Governor Gavin Newsom now forecasts a ruling for that far worse disaster sometime in the first half of 2019. And PG&E still intends to file Chapter 11 next week to protect against a worst case.

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