POWER Magazine Quotes Seth Hilton on Effect of PG&E Bankruptcy on Consumers and Company’s Future

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“The concern here [is that] the fire risk is not going away. This may be a process to deal with [liabilities from] the 2018 fires, but there’s going to be risk going forward due to climate change and its impact on California.”

—Energy attorney Seth Hilton

Stoel Rives partner Seth Hilton was quoted in POWER magazine in articles titled “PG&E Files for Bankruptcy, Prepares to Reorganize,” published January 29, 2019, and “California Governor Wants ‘Strike Team’ to Develop Utility Plan,” published on February 12, 2019. The articles discuss PG&E’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, in the wake of the 2018 wildfire season in Northern California, and its current and future implications for customers and the company; and the formation in the state of a “strike team” to develop plans to help both utility ratepayers and utility employees.

Lawsuits from home and business owners who sustained property losses during the wildfires in 2017 and 2018 will be suspended and consolidated in bankruptcy court, but in the meantime, PG&E is taking steps to be able to continue to operate during its reorganization. “In terms of PG&E’s ongoing operations, they announced they received debtor-in-possession financing, so if you’re a retail customer, your service should not be interrupted,” Hilton said. “There is a concern about what PG&E’s bankruptcy might mean in terms of its existing power purchase agreements.”

PG&E faces an estimated $30 billion or more in liabilities from the fires. The “strike team,” whose formation was announced by Governor Newsom on February 12, will include financial advisors and bankruptcy attorneys. The team “will develop a comprehensive strategy that will be presented in 60 days,” according to Newsom, meant to ensure justice for those hurt by the fires and to protect utility customers and workers. 

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