California senator proposes bill to end PG&E's private co status

Power in California. Author: Jeff Turner. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

February 4 (Renewables Now) - California state senator Scott Wiener on Monday introduced legislation that could result in Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PG&E) becoming a government-owned utility.

Wiener announced the bill at a news conference in San Francisco. Speaking at the event, he accused the company of placing its focus more on shareholder return than on safety and reliability investments, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“PG&E has forfeited its privilege to operate as an investor-owned monopoly in California,” the senator then tweeted, noting that the utility failed on both safety and reliability.

The newly proposed legislation aligns with governor Gavin Newsom’s recent warning that PG&E needs to become a completely new company or else the state will take it over.

The utility responded to the announcement by saying that the proposed changes to its structure will not create a safer or cleaner operation.

PG&E and its holding company PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG) filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code one year ago, as the business was burdened with liabilities following wildfires caused by its own power lines. In December 2019, the company agreed to a settlement that resolved all claims arising from the fires and last month reached a deal with bondholders on its restructuring.

On Friday, PG&E presented to the state utilities commission some proposed changes, including a planned replacement of members of its board, in an attempt to address the governor's concerns.

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