Law360 Quotes Seth Hilton on Impact of 2017 and 2018 Fire Seasons in California on Utility Business Model

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Energy attorney Seth Hilton was quoted in Law360 in an article titled “PG&E’s Ch. 11 Is Climate Change Wake-Up Call For Utilities,” published January 16, 2019. (Subscription required.) The article discusses how the reality of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s plan to seek bankruptcy protection to address liabilities for California wildfires may force utilities, regulators and lawmakers in other states to reassess how the current utility business model can accommodate the risk associated with the effects of climate change on energy infrastructure.

The aftermath of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires — PG&E faces more than $30 billion in potential liability — is likely the first example of a natural disaster related to climate change harming a utility’s ability to operate. “Given the implications of climate change and the costs associated with that, is the utility model going to be able to cope with those types of changes?” Hilton said. “PG&E’s answer is, ‘No, we can’t cope with those costs with our utility model currently. We’re going to use our bankruptcy process, or plan to.’ ”

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Seth D. Hilton
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