Wildfire victims, attorneys speak on $13.5B settlement from PG&E


SANTA ROSA (KRON) — Two years after devastating wildfires, a multi billion dollar settlement.

PG&E announced Friday an agreement to pay $13.5 billion for settlement costs, resolving all major claims related to deadly wildfires of 2015 to 2018.

Lawyers for the victims negotiated the settlement.

“It’s going to force PG&E to join the community of good corporate citizens,” Patrick McNicholas said. “Part and parcel to this settlement, PG&E is now going to have to invest billions of dollars in their infrastructure and safety which should have been done in the last 30 to 40 years.”

The money will be divided between victims of the Tubbs, Camp, Butte fires and the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.

At a press conference in Santa Rosa Sunday, the lawyers explained to wildfire victims the $13.5 billion settlement is to be paid out in eight to 12 months.

According to the lawyers, the money is split, about half cash and the rest bonds.

PG&E is currently in chapter 11 bankruptcy and says the utility has the financial backing in equity to support the settlement and its plan.

A father of three is thankful but concerned about the allocations.

“We don’t know if the stock is worth anything based on the attorney talked about, the stock would go in 2022, we don’t know,” Denny Katkuoi said. “The stock is very risky, people are already at risk, we can’t afford to take anymore risk.”

Jacob Lehler’s fountain grove home in Santa Rosa is red tagged from the Tubbs Fire.

He is one of dozens who showed up to learn about the deal.

“I think it’s a good step but in terms of us getting back into our house, we’re dealing with our insurance companies so that’s our hangup,” Lehler said.

Attorneys say more than 30,000 claims have been submitted.

The claims still need to be evaluated to get them paid.

The hope is for all the fire victims get paid in late 2020.

In a statement, PG&E President and CEO Bill Johnson said:

“From the beginning of the chapter 11 process, getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal. We want to help our customers, our neighbors and our friends in those impacted areas recover and rebuild after these tragic wildfires.”

Bill Johnson, PG&E President & CEO

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