The Slatest

PG&E Agrees to Pay $11 Billion to Settle With Insurers Over California Wildfires

Protesters, one of whom holds a sign saying "no corporate bailout," stage a demonstration inside the lobby of the PG&E headquarters.
Protesters stage a demonstration inside the lobby of PG&E headquarters on Dec. 11 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The utility company PG&E, which owned the equipment that sparked the deadly Camp Fire in Northern California in 2018, has settled with insurance carriers for $11 billion, the company announced Friday.

According to the Associated Press, the settlement will resolve roughly 85 percent of claims related to the 2018 fire and the 2017 Northern California fires that were also blamed on PG&E power lines. The company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, expecting major financial hits from lawsuits.

The $11 billion was well below the $20 billion insurers had sought, but the insurance companies said in a statement that they hoped the compromise would allow PG&E to reorganize and be able to compensate a larger number of victims. The settlement will still require the approval of a bankruptcy court.

On Monday, PG&E released a plan to reorganize in a way that frees up $18 billion for claims from the wildfires. According to the AP, victims have criticized that plan for capping the payments at $8.4 billion for the victims.

Separately, in June, the utility agreed to pay out $1 billion to cities and other local governments over the damage from the fires.

The Camp Fire in 2018 entirely destroyed the town of Paradise and left 86 people dead. It was California’s deadliest ever wildfire. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, PG&E equipment also started at least 16 of the other 20 major wildfires in California in 2017.

A number of individuals have sued PG&E, and their cases remain pending in federal and state courts. The company needs to emerge from bankruptcy by next summer in order to join a state wildfire fund to help utilities pay out future claims.